Pakistan Railways to introduce solar-powered traffic signalling system

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Railways was informed on Thursday that Pakistan Railways would shortly introduce a modern solar-powered traffic signalling system, under which there would be an alarm system to alert train drivers of any activity on the track within a distance of 3.5 kilometres.

Railways Minister Saad Rafique infor­med the committee that the Punjab government had released Rs610 million to protect 75 unmanned railway crossings while the Sindh government had released Rs80m for 15 such crossings.

The measures taken by the two provincial governments, he said, would help control accidents on unmanned railway crossings.

About the unmanned railway crossings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the minister said that the two governments had not responded so far despite written requests sent to the

Referring to the handing over of 34 acres of land to Defence Housing Authority (DHA) by the deputy commissioner, the committee was informed that the Punjab chief secretary had withdrawn the summary which had been sent to the chief minister for approval.

Committee chairman Senator Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hasni said that the deputy commissioner had unlawfully leased out the land to the DHA, Bahawalpur.

“Who empowered him to lease out the railway land to DHA?” he asked.

He told the railways ministry, the Punjab chief secretary and the defence ministry to produce the lease papers in the next meeting. The committee will next meet in Lahore.

Mr Rafique informed the committee that the matter was before a civil court but it would now be raised before a superior court.

He said that with the lease of 34 acres to the DHA, Pakistan Railways would have to realign its 140km-long track.

He said that salary of train drivers was low and railways was considering giving them a package of up to Rs100,000.

The chairman called for the revenue officials to be summoned at the next meeting.

About the handing over of the railways land in Chaman to the telecom company Etisalat and the payment of the price of land to the PR by the finance ministry, the committee chairman said that the finance ministry had taken the responsibility of the payment. He said the payment should be made within two weeks, otherwise the committee would recommend an action in this regard.

About the disposal of the railway scrap, the committee was informed that a mafia used to lift thousands of tonnes of scrap material for a paltry amount, but under a new policy framed in 2013, every railway division called tenders for the disposal of the scrap, and the department had earned Rs413m this year against the target of Rs450m.

Senator Taj Haider suggested that the PR should produce itself railway tracks.

Mr Rafique disclosed that work on a joint venture was progressing between Pakistan Railways and Heavy Mechanical Complex.