ECNEC approves $6.8bn for Pakistan Railways’ ML-1 Project

Under the project the existing 2,655km track would be upgraded while the speed of passenger trains would increase from 110kms per hour to 165kms per hour 

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ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Wednesday approved the project of Pakistan Railways for the up-gradation of existing Mainline-1 (ML-1) and the establishment of a dry port near Havelian.

The project was approved at the rationalised cost of $6,806.783 million, on a cost-sharing basis between the governments of China and Pakistan, according to a press statement issued by the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

The ECNEC meeting was chaired by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at the Cabinet Division.

The execution of the project would be completed in three packages in order to avoid commitment charges. The loan amount for each package will be separately contracted.

Under the project, the existing 2,655-kilometre (km) track would be upgraded while the speed of passenger trains would increase from 110kms per hour to 165kms per hour while line capacity would increase from 34 to 171 trains each way per day.

The Ministry of Railways would constitute a project steering committee for the effective supervision and implementation of the project, the statement added.

The committee also approved the Pakistan Single Window (PSW) project with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) being the sponsoring agency for the project.

The total cost of the project has been estimated at Rs11,074.16 million including Rs9,020 million Foreign Exchange Component (FEC).

The project would be completed by June 2023 and is expected to enhance Pakistan’s global ranking in cross border trade-related indicators.

It would also serve as the integration point bridging cargo and logistics systems and other trade-related processes.

The project would provide an automated single-entry centralised hub for submission and processing of 90 per cent of the licenses, permits, certificates and other documents needed for external trade.

ECNEC also approved a change in cost-sharing ratios of Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its co-financing Partners for the construction of BRT Red Line Project in Karachi at the total cost of Rs78,384.33 million including an FEC of Rs66,378.33 million.

The project was approved by ECNEC on August 29, 2019, and would use cattle based biomethane as fuel technology.

ECNEC also approved a PhD Scholarship Programme under the US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor (phase-1) at a revised cost of Rs25,226.274 million including an FEC of Rs24,303.543 million.

In the revised PC-1 the scope of the project has been curtailed to 1,000 scholarships, which previously stood at 1,500 scholarships. The scope has been narrowed mainly due to the appreciation of the US dollar against the Pakistani rupee and the inclusion of tuition fee and research grants.

Earlier on June 12, the federal government has allocated funds amounting to Rs24 billion for the execution of 41 ongoing and new projects of the Railways Division under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2020-21.

As per the programme, Rs12.83 billion were earmarked for 23 ongoing projects, of which Rs3.2 billion would be spent on the procurement and manufacturing of 820 high capacity freight wagons and 230 passenger coaches.

Meanwhile, the government also allocated Rs2.7 billion for the special repair of 100 diesel-electric locomotives in order to improve their reliability and availability.

Similarly, an amount of Rs2.5 billion was earmarked to acquire the land for the Railway Corridor, as well as operation land, in Gwadar.

The government also kept an amount of Rs11.16 billion for 18 new schemes, of which Rs6 billion were to be utilised for the up-gradation of existing projects, including Main Line-I and establishment of Dry Port near Havelian (2018-22) Phase-1 under China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Moreover, an amount of Rs1.5 billion was also earmarked for the operationalisation of trains on the existing Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) alignment, while Rs450 million have been allocated for the rehabilitation of a track between Sama Satta-Bahawalnagar on Sama Satta-Amruka section.

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