China has eased conditions and agreed to give loans on most favorable terms to Pakistan Railways for up-gradation of Main Line (ML-1) under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and work would commence by end of the current year, said Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique. He added while talking to the media that the feasibility study and preliminary design of ML-1, which caters 70 percent Railways’ traffic has almost completed while framework agreement is under process with China.
The framework agreement is likely to be signed in next three months, Minister added.
Level Crossing Upgrades to Cost Rs. 25 Billion
At an earlier briefing of the Senate Standing Committee on Railways, the minister said that there are over 2000 unmanned level crossings where 550 are vulnerable and 143 most vulnerable unmanned level crossings. The Ministry has estimated Rs 25 billion cost for up-gradation of such vulnerable points. The committee met with Fateh Muhammad Hassani as the chairperson.
Pakistan Railway has proposed to construct under passes and flyovers at vulnerable level crossing on Built, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis with the help of private sector, as provinces could not take such burden. About 75 level crossings have so far been upgraded while work on 100 is in progress. Only 7 level crossings were manned during the previous government period, Minister added.
Will Get GPS Devices for Tracking
Minister said that manned level crossing be further upgraded with provision of signals. Tracking/ monitoring of trains through GPS or location devices is also under process.
According to Railways Ministry there are a total of 1875 level crossings without guards. A joint survey of vulnerable unmanned level crossing was conducted in collaboration with Punjab government in 2013. As a result:
- 436 vulnerable and 75 most vulnerable unmanned level crossings were identified in Punjab ,
- 45 and 30 in Sindh,
- 37 and 6 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
- 32 and 32 identified in Balochistan
Level Crossings Upgraded at a Cost of Rs. 610 Million
Railway Minister said that 75 vulnerable have been upgraded at a cost of Rs 610 million provided by Punjab government. The provincial government has agreed to provide Rs 1,250 million for up-gradation of further 150 level crossings. The full cost of up-gradation is Rs 3.7 billion.
Sindh government has agreed to provide full funding. Initially Rs 54.5 million has been provided and work on level crossings has been initiated. Letters have been written to Chief Secretaries of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for providing required funding for up-gradation of these level crossings.
Nearly 200 Accidents Caused by Level Crossings
According to Railways Ministry data 184 trains’ accidents occurred at manned/unmanned level crossings during 2014-16, where 100 persons were killed and over 120 injured.
The committee expressed serious concerns over the unabated trains’ accidents in the country claiming precious lives, besides huge financial losses.
Railways Minister said that short, medium and long term measures were undertaken to control the trains’ accidents. Railways have started profiling of all drivers, assistant drivers and gate keepers over divisions (physical and mental examination). Physical and mental examination of drivers would be carried out as well.
New Communication System to Cost Rs. 730 Million
Further PC-1 of a new project worth Rs 730 million has been submitted to the Planning Division for effective communication system. Under the project provision of better communication (VHF radio) for improvement of communication between ground staff and locomotive crew would be ensured.
The committee expressed annoyance over Punjab government for handing over 34 acres of Railways land in Bahawalpur division to DHA. The committee recommended vacating the land and handing over to Railways. The committee also expressed anger over the absence of Chief Secretary Punjab from the meeting and directed to attend next meeting as in case of failure action would be taken as per the law.
The committee directed the Punjab Board of Revenue to set with Railway Ministry and resolved the 18 acres land issue where Shalimar Hospital has been established. The report should be submitted in the next committee meeting, the parliamentary panel directed.