PAKISTAN Railways’ efforts to modernise its operations received a boost at the end of April, when the government approved a national investment package totalling Rs10bn. This included several railway projects identified as a priority by PR Chairman Javed Ashraf, notably the refurbishing of 240 coaches and 55 diesel locos.

PR is to relay 85 track-km with new rail, and resleeper another 185 km of track. A batch of 320 redundant tank wagons will be dismantled and the components used to build 680 general freight vehicles, and a further 574 wagons will be fitted with air brakes. The Lahore - Khanewal main line is to be resignalled and the telecommunications network upgraded.

During April PR took delivery of its second locally-built 3000hp diesel loco assembled at Risalpur works, which has built 23 locos of 2000hp since 1993.

Ashraf wants to rehabilitate a further 36 diesel locos using a DM40m loan from Germany’s KfW. This is part of a DM60m loan originally agreed to fund the purchase of coaches, which was re-allocated by the previous government: DM20m was spent on non-rail projects.

Pakistan’s Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz has also started discussions with China’s Trade Minister Wei Jianguo over the possibility of Chinese assistance in revitalising PR operations.