INCORPORATION of Pakistan Railways’ three operating business units, scheduled for July 1, was delayed for at least two weeks at the last minute. Managing Directors had been designated for the passenger, freight and infrastructure units (p508), and were due to be formally appointed by the Prime Minister at the end of June.

The new structure has been drawn up by CIE Consult under a contract from the World Bank completed on June 30. This paves the way for separation of the accounts and creation of new management structures which will enable the companies to be privatised. The businesses are to operate on an experimental basis for three months before a decision is taken on moving to the next stage, which would see privatisation of support services and ancilliaries.

A fourth unit, known as the Residual Railway Authority, is to take over PR’s remaining 103000 staff, reduced by 40000 over the past three years by a ’golden handshake’ programme. The three operating businesses will then draw only those staff they require, with RRA responsible for retraining and discharging the remainder.

  • PR Chairman Masud Ahmed Daher is looking to form a joint venture with private financiers to boost services between Karachi and Lahore from next February. He envisages that the banks will fund conversion of 125 redundant coaches into air-conditioned seats cars and power vans at a cost of Rs4m each. o