Pakistan Railways was the worst affected institution by the record rains in July and August last year. Not only many railway lines were submerged in water due to floods, but also many bridges were severely damaged. Many areas were cut off from other parts of the country including Rohri, Sukkur, Quetta etc. The impact of the flood was so great that the institution could not recover from its effects for several months. In those two months (July, August), we had to suffer a loss of about five hundred and twenty-five billion rupees. No other institution in the country would have been able to stand on its feet again after suffering such a huge loss. It was Pakistan Railways and its hardworking employees who tirelessly played their vital role in restoring the operation of Pakistan Railways across the country.
At present, 90 trains of Pakistan Railways are running and we are trying to make this number cross the figure of 100 in the next few months. Inspite of severe lack of resources, efforts are being made for the restoration and upgradation of different trains. After the success of Green Line, Shalimar Express has also shown its popularity among passengers. We are currently working on the restoration of the Bahauddin Zakaria Express which will be running on its old route from June 1.
In light of Federal Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq's instructions to increase the revenue of Pakistan Railways, we have started our work on branding, from which we expect to generate at least one billion rupees in two years. At present, Branding is being introduced to major stations. If successful, it will be extended to smaller stations and cities. Apart from this, work is also going on to generate revenue from railway lands through commercial purposes, from which the institution expects reasonable income.
I would like to clarify one thing that Pakistan Railways is one of the very few institutions that salaries and pensions from its own resources. After the floods, our revenue decreased because of suspension of operations in certain areas. Resultantly, payment of salaries and pension started getting delayed. In order to resolve this delay in salaries and pension, we have requested the federal government to make these payments directly into the accounts of employees and pensioners through banks so that they may no longer be dependent on the revenue earned through operations by Pakistan Railways. Negotiations in this regard are in final stages. Salary and pension will be reconciled on 1st or 2nd of every month after settlement of the matter.
Often, we read the news about loss in Pakistan Railways. I want to clarify that Pakistan Railways has never been in operational deficit. We earn more than what we spend on operations. The loss is shown in stats when people include salaries and pension in the financial statement.
Several measures are being taken to earn more revenue to run the wheels of railway economy. We are in the final stages of finalizing the design of the ML1 project to improve our installations and tracks. Final shape depends upon as to how much our country's economy can support ML1. As soon as the work on the project begins, you will see betterment in Pakistan Railways.
As far as the freight business is concerned, at present we have three to four vehicles running daily. We are in constant touch with Chambers of Commerce, traders and industrialists across the country to increase freight revenue. As our rates are lower than all other transport modes available, we are not only trusted but also preferred for freight forwarding. Now the number of these trains is expected to increase when the sections across the country are opened.
To give a better train experience to the public, every train now has a manager who ensures sanitation arrangements and clean water supply. I think there is still a lot of room for improvement in this matter. Our organization is working on it. Instructions have also been issued to increase seating benches, water coolers and other facilities at various railway stations which you will see implemented in the coming weeks.
Railways is the safest mode of transportation in Pakistan. To further improve passenger safety and to deal with any emergency situation among passengers, we have started a passenger awareness program. In this regard, we have distributed pamphlets in the trains and are also sharing videos on social media so that the passengers can be fully aware of the precautionary measures in emergency situations.
Pakistan Railways is getting better than before. Despite the limited resources, we are trying to provide maximum facilities to our passengers. It is your institution, its property is your own. Every patch and part of the railway is bought from your money. Whatever the political situation the country may be in, damaging your property does not make things better. Take care of your organization, it needs your protection, not the anger.