Pakistan and China have agreed to amend a framework agreement on the implementation of a mainline-I project of the Pakistan Railways From Karachi to Peshawar. There are 184 railway stations from Kamari to Peshawar Cantonment on this line. Furthermore, the line passes via Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Rohri, RahimyarKhan, Bahawalpur, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and finally to Peshwar.
Prime Minister Imran Khan says Karachi to the Peshawar ML-1 project has great significance in CPEC and will provide better travel and transport facilities to people. He also included, the progress of railways was a must for the country’s development.
Rehabilitation and Up-gradation of Karachi-Lahore Peshawar (ML-1) Railway Track project of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will now take at least six years to complete – from the day of its groundbreaking. However, three phases will complete this project.
Scope of ML-1 Project Agreement
According to the government sources, the agreement is to reduce the total length of the project from (1872 Km) to around (1680 km). The scope of this also includes,
- Doubling of entire track from Karachi to Peshawar
- Speed of passenger trains to be raise from 65/110km/h to 160 km/h
- Freight trains to operate at 120 km/h
- Computer-based signaling and control system
- Grade separation to ensure the safety of train operations
Read More: WHAT PAKISTAN CAN LEARN FROM INDIA?
This project was proposed by the Ministry of Railways. And being implemented by Pakistan Railways. This project is supervised by the Ministry of Communications, Government of Pakistan. Moreover, the estimated cost of this project is 8,172 Million USD.
All the work on this project would be carried out by financing through the Chinese Government Concessional Loan (GCL). Like PMLN, PTI government has also failed to decide whether Chinese loan for the ML-I project will be taken on the books of the Finance Ministry or that of the Ministry of Railways. As other Projects, work will be awarded through open bidding as per PPRA rules through the EPC contract.
The feasibility has been completed by a Chinese consortium that provided a base for calculating the cost of the project. The project has been declared strategically important by both countries.
Three phases in ML-1 CPEC
Firstly, four sections will be completed in a period of three to four years. Except for one, almost all these sections will be built from Rawalpindi to Lahore. The other sections include the upgrading of the Nawabshah-Rohri section of 183km, Lalamusa-Rawalpindi section of 118km, and Lahore-Lalamusa section of 132km. Moreover, the upgrading of Walton Railway Academy with a reduced scope is also part of phase one.
In the second phase that will also take three years to complete, Pakistan and China have agreed to construct a Multan-Lahore section and the Kamari-Hyderabad section. The dry port at Havelian will also be part of the second phase but its scope has been reduced.
In the third phase, the Rawalpindi-Peshawar section and Hyderabad-Multan section will be constructed. On the other hand, the Taxila-Havelian track has been dropped from the ML-I scope.
The sources said Although, Chinese contractors have the technical capacity and financial muscles to complete the three phases simultaneously. But the commercial traffic cannot be closed by Pakistan Railways and the project has to be implemented in phases that will take more time.