Saad Rafique Says Pakistan Cannot Afford Bullet Trains

Khawaja Saad Rafique on Tuesday said though it was one of the promises made with people by the ruling party during their pre-election campaign, the fact is Pakistan cannot afford having bullet trains. The Railway Minister was giving an articulate speech on the floor of the National Assembly.

He revealed the Chinese laughed at their questions about bullet train for Pakistan. The country cannot have a real bullet train as it would not find any market there for its existence. Instead, the government should consider introducing a kind of bullet train that can run with a 160-kmph speed under CPEC.

The railway minister admitted that Pakistan Muslim League (N) had been criticized for not working on the project though it was apparent that Pakistan lacks enough money to make an actual bullet train. Even though, if it has, there is no such an adequate range of upper and middle class travelers who would purchase its tickets.

Saad Rafique put forward a detailed analysis and a comprehensive overview of Pakistan Railways to the members of National Assembly, and said he has been trying to do as much as possible for cleaning up the department from mess and turning it into a profitable body.

Mr. Rafique also mentioned three provinces of the country are not ready to hand over the land of railway to the Pakistan Railways which is a great hindrance for the department to make more income. According to the Railway Minister, these three provinces include Baluchistan, Punjab and Sindh that have refused to turn over the land of railway.

In addition to the matter of railway lands, Mr. Rafique said the biggest issue his department is facing with railway land all over Pakistan is that provincial governments own them whereas those are under Pakistan Railways' possession. And despite the ruling made by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for turning over these lands, the provinces are refusing to do so.

According to Mr. Rafique, he has pleaded all Chief Ministers of the provinces of Pakistan in the three-and-a-half years time. But expect Khyber Pakhtunkhwa no other provinces have handed the department a single marla of land. It's worth mentioning that the government of KPK has turned over 90pc of railway lands to Pakistan Railways upon the request of the department minister.

He said that the department cannot commercially use lands whose titles don’t belong to it. He also clarified that his department wouldn't touch lands occupied by traditional residents or slum dwellers as they cannot displace those people, they have no other option to live in. He vowed to take strict action against people who are using railway lands for business purposes.  Moreover, he also claimed to have retrieved land expanding over 1,017 acres from encroachments during his service.

The articulate speech of Mr. Rafique apparently covered almost each aspect of his department in detail, though he was suppose to address to the important matter of "non utilization of Railway lands in Pakistan".