ISLAMABAD: The switching of power plants from oil to coal may need an investment of Rs123 billion in developing infrastructure of the Pakistan Railways (PR) for shipping coal to the electricity producers, says the minister of railways.
A majority of the power plants will depend on imported coal that will need to be transported to the sites, making the development of infrastructure necessary.
PR is establishing a freight coal company to ship fuel to four coal-based power plants in Jamshoro, Rahimyar Khan, Muzaffargarh and Sahiwal subject to the improvement of tracks and the signaling system.
“The improvement will require a period of at least three years and for coal transportation to power plants, 63 locomotives and 3,065 wagons will be needed,” Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique told the cabinet in a meeting held on November 6.
Apart from that, he said, rehabilitation of infrastructure would cost Rs52.1 billion and the total cost would be around Rs123.5 billion. “A separate freight company is also being set up by the Pakistan Railways.”
According to Rafique, the PR will build about 107 kms of new rail link between Islamabad, Murree and Muzaffarabad. Feasibility study for the project will be undertaken at a cost of Rs59.92 million and will be completed in six months.
PR will also establish a rail link with China under the Early Harvest Programme, upgrade the existing ML-1 (main line – one) from Peshawar to Karachi and set up a dry port at Havelian.
Pakistan Railways Advisory and Consultancy Services, a PR subsidiary, will conduct a feasibility study in association with the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak) and China Railway Eeyuan Engineering Group Company.
Rafique said various measures were being taken to generate revenue from passenger and freight services. Steps have also been taken to start running again container trains for dry ports and inland container terminals, cargo train between Karachi and Lahore and enter into long-term business agreements with Pakistan State Oil, Maple Leaf Cement, National Logistics Cell (NLC) and others.
In order to generate revenue from passenger trains, measures have been taken to revive different services such as Akbar Express, Faiz Express, Musa Pak Express, Jand and Pind Dadan Khan Shuttles (Mehran Express).
Rafique stressed that one of the major initiatives of the railways ministry was to recover PR land from encroachers. Moreover, the ministry has decided not to sell and lease land for a period of just 99 days. However, short and medium-term leases will be offered.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2014.