The Chinese government has sent Pakistan’s first modern railways’ infrastructure project — Main Line-1 (ML-1) — to the Exim Bank of China for approval of a $6 billion loan after all technical, administrative and other issues have finally been resolved, paving the way for launching civil work on this scheme within this year.
According to a report by a local media outlet, the construction of ML-1 project in three phases had been approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) in its meeting held in August last year. The actual cost of the project was initially $9bn, including equity amount of the government of Pakistan but was later reduced to $6.8bn.
Following the approval of the loan needed for the project, it will be sent to respective Chinese ministries dealing with the railways and planning and development related matters. This whole process would take a couple of months, after which the ministry would be able to initiate the international bidding process.
The project would have upgrade of ML-1 from Karachi to Peshawar and Taxila to Havelian (1,872km), laying of new track with improved sub grade for 160km/per hour, rehabilitation and construction of bridges, provision of modern signalling and telecom systems, conversion of level crossings into underpasses, flyovers, fencing of track, establishment of dry port near Havelian and upgrading Walton Training Academy, Lahore.
It will reduce travel time from Karachi to Lahore from 18 to 10 hours.