Pakistan has cut down investment for its Railways Main Line-1 (ML1) modernization and upgradation project by $2 billion.
Under this project, the railway track system will be upgraded to bring train speeds up to 120 kilometers per hour. Currently, Pakistan Railways (PR) is looking for partners from the private sector to handle train operations and branding stations.
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed addressed a media briefing at the Railways headquarters in Lahore. Chairman PR Muhammad Javed Anwar and other senior officials were also present at the event. Rashid announced that he will brief Prime Minister Imran Khan soon regarding big projects in Pakistan railways.
On a question regarding the ML1 upgradation project, Sheikh Rashid disclosed that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) won’t be completed unless the railways link Havelina to Khunjerab and Quetta to Gwadar are not finished. He also announced plans to lay a stranded gauge railway line from Karachi to Peshawar.
Sheikh Rashid announced the decision to reduce ML1 project loan by $2 billion.
“China is our great friend and brother as they are helping to upgrade our railways. When I took over the ML1 Project, it was worth $8.2 billion. I took out the excess costs, lowering the project cost to $6.2 billion,” the Minister told.
About Railways projects, the Minister announced his plans to run 10 new trains under the first 100 days of the government. These new trains will be initially run by Pakistan Railways. After 90 days, they will be handed over to the private sector. The Private sector will be invited to brand these railway stations.
Sheikh Rashid also announced increase in freight trains. At this time PR is operating 8 to 10 freight trains and in a few days, these will be converted into 12 trains. He also announced a new coal transportation agreement.
“An agreement has been inked with Sehgal and Yahya for the transportation of coal till 2021. This will bring Rs. 1.2 billion in extra income for PR.”
He also announced plans to conduct the audit of PR’s oil depot.
“Total fuel expense of Pakistan Railways is Rs. 14 to 15 billion. There are 14 fuel depots of PR. An audit will be conducted of all depots and we hope at least Rs. 1 billion could be safe. Those who are found involved in corruption will terminated,” Rashid added.