The Ministry of Railways, in collaboration with China’s state-run rail corporation under the economic corridor project, will overhaul the main track from Peshawar to Karachi in a bid to enhance its transportation services, an official said on Sunday.
Railways Secretary Perveen Agha said that in this regard a memorandum of understanding will be signed with the Chinese partners. An advance team has arrived from China to set the terms of reference for the MoUs between the two parties, she added.
“We will upgrade the ML-1 track from Peshawar to Karachi to improve the per hour speed of our rails, which is crucial for enhancing the transport service,” said Agha. “Work on a feasibility report for this project will start by the end of this year.”
The federal secretary pointed out that the feasibility study was scheduled to be conducted in December, but due to the ongoing political crisis the Chinese team had to delay their visit and they have recently reached Islamabad.
“The feasibility study of the project will be led by our own experts for rationalising the overall project cost,” said Agha. “The project will be completed by 2017.”
Agha apprised that after upgradation of the main railway track, the travelling speed will increase from the existing 90km to 140 km per hour. She further said that a Chinese bank will provide soft loan for undertaking the project.
“The improvement of the ML-1 will revive the overall condition of the railways,” said the secretary. She said that this project is part of Pak-China economic corridor initiative. It’s the first phase where tracks are repaired and upgraded, in the second phase, she said, new tracks will be laid from Havallian to Khunjrab.
The federal secretary said that future target of Pakistan Railways is to increase freight service making it self-reliant by generating its own resources. Railways have earned Rs7 billion more through freight service than the target set during the current year. However, it still suffers budget deficit because a large chunk of its budget, almost 67 per cent, is consumed by the staff and 140,000 pensioners.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2014.
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