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Pakistan Railways out of red, on track for profits

 LAHORE, October 23 (Internews): For the first time in its history,
 Pakistan Railways has generated more money than it spends and from
 December onwards, it will be firmly on track to earn profits.
 "We earned Rs 3.246 billion up to October 10 as against the budgetary
 target of Rs 3.229 billion set by the Ministry of Finance, exceeding the
 target by Rs 17.5 million," Railway spokesman Iqbal Khan has said.
 During the first quarter of the current fiscal year, July-September
 2001, the Railways generated Rs 3.069 billion as against an expenditure
 of Rs 2.496 billion - generating Rs 573 million more than its
 expenditure.
 "The change from red to blue figures has been achieved for the first
 time in two decades," Khan said.
 Figures for the Pakistan Railway's last three years show that in
 1998-99, the gap between expenditure and revenue was Rs 2.63 billion,
 which was reduced to Rs 819 million during 2000-2001.
 During the current fiscal year, Khan said, the Railways would generate
 more than its current expenditure despite an additional burden of Rs 700
 million incurred due to increase in wages and pensions from 1 December
 2001.
 The spokesman said that an exhaustive audit revealed 21,000 ghost
 pensioners, a position that has been rectified. The Railways has also
 surrendered 38,000 unfilled posts from the sanctioned strength of
 133,000, which has been brought down to 95,000 against which 92,000
 employees are working.
 Giving details of land assets, Khan said the Railways owned a total
 159,440 acres of which 3,648 acres had been encroached by 2000 by land grabbers. Of this 785 acres have been retrieved by September 2001. The
 Railways generates Rs 506 million from commercialisation of its
 landholdings.
 Pakistan Railways will get 15 new locomotives and 40 coaches from China
 next year from a total of 69 locomotives and 175 coaches, to be made
 locally as a part of a technology transfer agreement, by 2004.
 The administration has also embarked on a drive for punctuality of
 trains, improvement in tracks, provision of light and water in branch
 line trains, laying double tracks in some sectors. -Internews
 ENDS

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