China and Pakistan to lay a high-speed Karachi-Peshawar double track
In collaboration with China, Pakistan Railways has planned to lay a high-speed double track from Karachi to Peshawar.
The Railways Minister, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that the mode of financing for the high-speed double track project has yet to finalize, it will cost billions of rupees.
Speaking to media at the Karachi Cantt Station – Railways Minister
While speaking to media at the Karachi Cantt Station after seeing off the first scheduled cargo train, he said:
“With the help of China, we will lay a double track from Karachi to Peshawar with the minimum speed of 160 (kilometers per hour) and maximum of 260 (kilometers per hour) if and when we get the go-ahead from the government.”
China, Pakistan agrees to upgrade ML-1 Railway Tracks:
In September, the Ministry of Railways and the National Railway Administration of China (NRAC) had started work on Pakistan Railways’ Mainline 1 (ML-1).
Cost of the project:
The project will cost $8.176 billion for rehabilitation and up-gradation of the 1,872 km Karachi- Lahore Peshawar (ML-1) railway track.
The upgrade will bring attention to railway transportation, which has deteriorated significantly over the past few decades.
National freight load:
Over 70% of the national freight load in the 1970s carried by Pakistan Railways, which now stands at 4%.
Pakistan Railways is hopeful that after completion of this project, this will grow to 20% with freight traffic increasing from 5 to 25 million tonnes per annum by 2025. The passenger traffic will also increase by 45%.
The decision is under consideration:
Sheikh told that Prime Minister Imran Khan will soon announce his decision on the source of financing for the Karachi-Peshawar high-speed rail project.
Whether it would be an investment, loan, build, operate and transfer mechanism, public-private partnership or joint venture, PM will decide.
“The decision is to be taken by the Prime Minister and this will be decided before March 23rd so that work can be kick-started,” the minister revealed.
Replacement of old railway tracks with new ones:
Old railway tracks would be replaced by new ones and would be utilized for other routes later, he added.
“We are laying a railway track network across the country, the increase in train fares has become inevitable,” he remarked.
Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project:
The minister said that the mega Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project, worth $60 billion, has become part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“KCR has been moved into CPEC. Our decision will be announced in 5-15 days,” he said, adding that if the KCR project is not initiated today, it will never be completed.
Urging the business community:
The Minister urged the business community to play its role in steering Pakistan Railways out of the financial crisis. Because it is not possible to grow economy until wheels of trains were not in motion.
Bank guarantee worth Rs50 billion should be paid in advance for Pakistan Railways to help it recover from steep losses, the Minister suggested them.
Freight charges will be decreased by Cargo movement – Sheikh Rasheed
Presently, around 35 freight engines and dozens of wagons are lying in the parking yard of the railways.
Cargo movement via trains will cut the freight charges by a minimum of 20% compared to roads. Transportation time will come down to two days from Karachi to Lahore compared to three days via roads.
“Pakistan Railways will earn Rs18 billion in revenue from cargo train operations,” Minister revealed.
Instructions for overcoming losses – Prime Minister
The Prime Minister has given instructions for overcoming losses of Rs32 billion this year. He said that the Pakistan Railways owes Rs25 billion in loans, pays wages worth Rs30 billion and spends Rs18 billion on fuel.
“We can overcome the losses in collaboration with the private sector,”
He said adding, “I wish no railway track is left free for even one hour.”
Praising Marine Group of Companies:
The PM Khan praised the Marine Group of Companies for its efforts to run the first scheduled cargo train under public-private partnership on the Karachi-Lahore route.
“Railways’ morale and confidence have been boosted by this,” he said.
During the first 100 days of the present government, the punctuality ratio of Pakistan Railways passenger trains has been improved by 90%.
“With the punctuality of trains and concrete measures taken by the government, 20 million passengers have been added in the system, which is an ample proof of department’s achievement,”
the Minister for Railways said.
Source: Express Tribune