Pakistan Railways
Pakistan has launched a new rail freight service to connect the ports in city of Karachi with industrial hubs in farther regions of the country. Image Credit: Pakistan Railways

Islamabad: Pakistan has launched a new rail freight service to connect the ports in the city of Karachi with industrial hubs in farther regions of the country.

The freight containers attached to the locomotive began the journey after the inauguration at the Hutchison Ports Pakistan, also called South Asia Pakistan Terminal (SAPT). The train will take up to four days to reach its destination in Lahore.

From ports to factory gates

“We are extending our physical gates to Multan, Sialkot and Lahore as the containers will be unloaded from the ships and put on a train that will deliver them to the customers at their factory gates,” said. Captain Syed Rashid Jamil, general manager and head of business unit at Hutchison Ports Pakistan. He hoped that the commencement of the freight train service would contribute towards improving Pakistan’s trade volume and exports.

Cheaper, faster and greener

The service is aimed at boosting the country’s trade and also ease road traffic congestion caused by container trucks and allow faster movement higher cargo volumes. The country is encouraging rail freight which remains cheaper, faster and greener means of transportation of goods without the need for any additional infrastructure. Rail freight is also considered cleaner transportation as it is more fuel-efficient and reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to trucks.

New track laid

The freight train service also coincides with the launch of a high-tech train track connecting the Hutchison Ports Pakistan facility to the rest of the country through Pakistan Railway’s extensive network. It is laid out on a ballast-less track system which is preferred over traditional rails due to stability, strong durability and low maintenance.

Tripe container transport

Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said the new service would open new avenues of trade opportunities in Pakistan. “This will triple the container transport for Pakistan,” and it will transport millions of containers and create more jobs and revenue. He also expressed hope that the initiatives would make railways a profitable institution of Pakistan in the next six months. The government is considering several new terminals for the freight service with the collaboration of the Karachi Port Trust.

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi welcomed the development and urged the need for connecting Port Qasim Authority with the freight train service to put the country on the path to prosperity. He also called for the “transformation of Karachi city” and the need for good governance. For Pakistan to achieve its economic potential, “Karachi needs to become an international standard business hub as the city generates country’s major economic activities with its ports, business and industrial zones,” the minsier said.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail spoke on the significance of port cities across the world that are responsible for their country’s prosperity and hoped the initiative would help boost trade potential.

Separately, Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Pakistan Railways also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the supply of POL products, transportation and other businesses.