‘If lock down continues, we will only be able to pay workers till June’, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed

To maintain social distancing between passengers, thermal scanners and other checking machines have been installed.

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Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that Pakistan Railways will only be able to pay its workers until June since the lockdown and transportation shutdown has halted operations.

‘’We urgently need Rs.5 billion to pay salaries and other expenses in July’’, he said.

The department is under a lot of financial strain as operations of all 42 passenger trains have been on a stop since 25th March 2020.

According to the minister, he has asked the government for Rs.2 billion a month from the budget to cover the expenses until the end of 2020.

‘’We have to pay 77,000 employees and 200,000 pensioners, along with other expenses like maintenance of fleet and utility bills’’, Ahmed said.

He added that the organization was already facing a deficit before the entire COVID-19 pandemic.

‘’We succeeded in reducing its annual deficit by Rs.6 billion. This pandemic and lockdown have brought all our operations to a halt’’, he continued. Ahmed further said that they haven’t earned anything for the past six weeks, and this is further increasing their loss.

The ministry has asked to ease the lockdown from 10th May 2020 for railway operations to continue ahead of Eid Al-Fitr, during which many people return to their hometowns to celebrate Eid with family.

Sheikh Rasheed said if the government allows them to restart operations, they will start 32 trains across the country. The final decision by Prime Minister Imran Khan will be taken on the 9th of May 2020, however, in case of a delay, the operations will commence from 15th May.

To maintain social distancing between passengers, thermal scanners and other checking machines have been installed. The trains will operate on a 50% occupancy, and all procedures and steps will be followed to protect passengers and staff from the virus.

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