Upgradation of $8.2bn ML1 railway project to start within three months

Major strategic project under CPEC finalised

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ISLAMABAD: Though the government had shown commitment to start work on one of the most important components of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) rehabilitation and up-gradation of railway Main-Line 1 (ML1) from Karachi to Peshawar by March, it has claimed that the process will be initiated within the next three months.

Briefing the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms, on Wednesday, the officials of the planning ministry claimed that the paper work of the Pakistan Railway project ML-1 has been completed. Practically, the execution of work on the multi-billion dollar project will be started within the next three months.

The meeting of the committee was held under the chairmanship of MNA Abdul Majeed Khan Khanankhail.

According to officials, the feasibility study of the project has already been finalised while the framework agreement with China has also been signed. The project was of great importance and the two countries had declared it as a strategic project of CPEC which would help improve connectivity between the two countries. The project will be completed during the next five years.

According to officials, China has fully agreed to finance this project as per the framework agreement signed between the two countries. China will provide the loan for the project on reasonable conditions and interests.

Officials from Pakistan Railways claim that the project will be presented at the Central Development Working Party meeting on March 19.

Meanwhile official sources in ministry of planning told this scribe that according to the agreement, the project’s total estimated cost was $8.2 billion. They said that with the upgradation of ML-1, the train’s speed would increase from less than 100 kilometres per hour to 140 kilometres per hour while the train capacity would be increased from the current 32 to 171 trains per day.

Pakistan Railways had planned to upgrade and overhaul the infrastructure of ML-1 under CPEC framework, including bridges, track, signalling, tunnels, buildings, telecommunication systems, and track maintenance system.

The committee, later directed the ministry of planning, and railways to speed up the process of implementation on the mega project.

Discussing another agenda of the meeting, officials informed the committee that China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) has completed the feasibility study for the construction of 1000 meter long new terminal with 5 additional berths. The Chinese Company installed a sanitation plant with a capacity of two lac gallons in Gwadar.