PAKISTAN RAILWAYS is starting to reap the benefits of a sustained programme to eliminate inefficiencies and fraud begun last year (RG 3.00 p135). According to General Manager, Operations, Iqbal Samad Khan, PR succeeded in reducing its overdraft with the State Bank of Pakistan from Rs4bn in 1999 to Rs1·2bn last year. Revenue rose to Rs9·8bn and PR hopes to reach Rs11bn this year, at the same time closing the gap between costs and income.

The improvements follow a long-overdue package of measures to raise the quality of service. Management has been charged with securing better punctuality, and refurbishment of the stock of the Khyber Mail, the Quetta Express, the Karachi Express and two other premier trains has helped to win back passenger traffic. Attention to detail always helps, and these trains now have on-board generators to ensure power for air-conditioning, fans and lighting, and the equipment is being maintained consistently.

At the same time there has been a crackdown on the illegal sale of tickets by touts on the black market, with a matching programme to eliminate ticketless travel. Accountants have examined PR’s pension arrangements, in the course of which they discovered 19000 ’ghost pensioners’ absorbing Rs300m a year. Staff filling in bogus overtime claims have also been detected, resulting in savings of a further Rs100m. Our correspondent also reports that ’parasites thriving on stations and railway colonies for free gas and electricity’ have been dealt with.