With mounting debts and ever increasing maintenance issues, Pakistan Railways needs bailing out at regular intervals.
In light of this, the Central Asia Regional Economic Corporation (CAREC) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) intend to transform the national railway’s fortunes with a multi-billion dollar investment.
Multi Billion Dollar Investments
PR is poised to attract a multi-billion dollar investment for the purpose of upgrading and deployment of new railway infrastructure across Pakistan. The investment comes under two regional economic unions, Central Asia Regional Economic Corporation (CAREC) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The purpose of this investment is to link Central Asia and China with the ports in Karachi and Gwadar.
Upgradation and Expansion Projects
An official source from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said that they have begun assessing the financial needs for upgrading the 461 km main line (ML-1) connecting Lahore and Peshawar under the CAREC Railway Connectivity Investment Program. PR will receive the finances by next year.
The Ministry of Railway has shared their plans which include the upgrade of ML-1 Karachi-Peshawar line, extension of the ML-2 from Jacobabad to Gwadar via Basima with CPEC and CAREC both on board.
The Ministry of Railway calls them early harvest projects, and they are expected to be completed by 2020. The source from ADB adds that the projects could be completed earlier if more funds were available as they have the technical expertise to complete them earlier.
A 411 km track between Lahore-Peshawar section of the ML-1 will be upgraded and dualised and a new signaling and telecommunication system will be added.
Upgraded passenger facilities at Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar are also planned. A 53 km section from Kaluwal and Pindora will be realigned and dualised.
Pakistan Railway has also shared their plans under the CPEC part of the agreement. Phase 1 (Early Harvest Projects) upgrading of ML-1 (Karachi-Peshawar and Taxila-Havelian) and construction of a dry port at Havelian (Buldher).
Phase 2 which is for the medium durational projects, include upgradation and extension of ML-2 (Gwadar-Jacobabad via Basima).
The longest duration project is for the Phase 3 which will establish a rail link between Havelian-Khunjrab-Kashgar).
Railways will also receive finances for modernization of railway, IT-based accounting system and migrating of existing accounting data on the new system.
In addition to this, an official source has mentioned that there are further plans to link Gwadar port, Kandahar, Kabul and Dushanbe, with another plan which will have a railway link between Gwadar and Quetta, and they will be extended all the way to China as well.
Via Pakistan Today