China Economic Net
Islamabad: Multi-billion-dollar Main Line 1 (ML-1) project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is connected to Pakistan’s future, a senior minister said on Thursday afternoon.
In a meeting with a Chinese delegation here, Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said the ML-1 was the most important project of Pakistan.
“The future of Pakistan Railways is connected to the ML-1 project which would provide direct and indirect employment opportunities to 150,000 people,” he said according to an official statement.
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 $ 9 billion, including equity amount of the government of Pakistan. But later, it was reduced gradually to $ 6.8 billion.
Officials said the cost was reduced since money allocated earlier for train sets and rolling stock was not needed during completion period of the project.
As the project will near completion, another project proposal regarding procurement of train sets and rolling stock would be prepared and approved separately.
Azam Swati discussed matters relating to the CPEC projects with the Chinese delegation, said the official statement.
“They discussed matters related to the ML-1 project and possible ways to modernize railways sector,” it added.
Swati said the project will increase the speed of the train to 160 kilometres per hour. “The journey time from Lahore to Karachi will be only eight hours, Rawalpindi-Lahore will be only 2.5 hours, Multan-Lahore two hours and Karachi-Rawalpindi will be left for ten hours,” he pointed out.
The minister said there will be fencing on both sides of the track and the gates will be removed. Along with ML-1, work on ML-2 and Quetta- Gwadar will also be carried out, he added.
The minister said that the railways sector will connect the whole Pakistan and will give new life to Gwadar port.
Swati said it was for the first time in the history of Pakistan Railways that a proper business plan was presented after working hard. “This sector had been working without any business plan in the last 73 years,” he said.
Congratulating the nation regarding ML-1 project, he said this project would be completed in our tenure. “Pakistan project on 2 rail link with Afghanistan was also in progress. It is 11 km from Chaman to Spin Boldak within the borders of Pakistan while Kandahar is 130 km from Spin Boldak,” said the minister.
Feasibility is completed from Chaman to Spain Boldak and its PC-I has also been approved in 2015, he added.
Pakistan shared the feasibility report with the Afghan government but they did not start work. If the Afghanistan side starts working on it, we will complete our track in a year, he said.
The minister said Pakistan had completed the track from Peshawar to Jalalabad. Pakistan has started the feasibility of rail link from Peshawar to Jalalabad through Shaman Valley and about 30% work has been done on it, he remarked.