Business Train ready to pull out, as transparency of deal gets more criticism

KARACHI: A fare of Rs5000 would be charged for a standard seat in Business Train, whose inauguration is due on February 3, while per seat fare of Rs3500 was agreed between Pakistan Railways and the investors, Four Brothers International, inner sources claimed on Tuesday.

They said that fare was raised even before the running of train, as the investors claim that meal, drinks and other services to be provided to passengers would be of 5-star hotel standard and the PR authorities accepted their argument. They said that the Pakistan Railway would earn total revenue of Rs1.20billion each year from this train. However, the sources claimed that the major beneficiary would not the PR but the private investors.

The sources told PPI that the train is due to start from February 3, 2012 while the PR has already been under criticism regarding the profit sharing between both parties as 12% profit would be earned by the investors – Four Brothers International – for only selling tickets while another private firm, Pakistan Railways Advisory & Consultancy Services Limited PRACS, is providing same services for 6% profit margin. The PRACS is already running three passenger trains of Pakistan Railways on 6percent profit margin.

Chairman Railway Workers Union Manzoor Ahmed Razi while talking to PPI said, “If a private firm wants to invest in the department then it should also bring in the required infrastructure like locomotives, coaches and staff. What kind of a deal is this where the private party would get 12% of the revenue just by only selling tickets?”

He said the contract was given to the Four Brothers without going for open bidding, which is violation of rules and regulations. He said the deal is not transparent and hidden hands were involved in it. He demanded that the agreement must be made public while terms of deal he must also be revisited. He hailed that if the shoddy affairs were not brought in order, the workers of Pakistan Railways would be forced to protest.

The sources said the private sector company has invested Rs226 million in the Business Train, which consists of nine coaches; nine air conditioned coaches. Pakistan Railways and Four Brothers International Private Limited signed an agreement on August 18, 2011 to operate the train between the capitals of Punjab and Sindh.

Each cabin, having six seats, will have an LCD television, charging points for laptops, mobile phones and other devices.

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