China’s help sought for completing ML-1 projects under CPEC3 min read

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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad on Tuesday sought China’s help for completing Main Line (ML-1) projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework with an estimated cost of $8.2 billion, official sources revealed to Business Recorder.

The railways minister held a meeting with Xhiang Zhinim, Director General (DG) China Railway Group Ltd (CREC), here at Ministry of Railways on Tuesday. Railways Spokesperson Durriya Amir told Business Recorder that the DG CREC showed interest in mutual cooperation for improving Pakistan Railways. The federal minister admired the eternal friendship between Pakistan and China.

Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said, “We and Pakistan Railways completely support CPEC and Chinese help is also needed in completing ML-I projects.” The railways minister also stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan has zero tolerance against corruption.

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Officials said that Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing recently called on Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad and extended full support to the new government while saying that railways projects under the CPEC would be completed swiftly with an estimated cost of $8.2 billion in five years.

Also Read: Pakistan, CPEC lead foreign policy: China

“Though Pakistan and China have not yet finalized loan financing for ML-1 of Pakistan Railways under the CPEC, which would be upgraded with an estimated cost of $8.2 billion. However, the government will finalize the loan financing of $8.2 billion for the up-gradation and doubling of ML-1 under CPEC once it stabilizes,” the officials added. The project is financially viable as assessed by the consultants where investment ratio between government of Pakistan and China shall be 15:85.

The government of Pakistan will provide 15 percent finance to Railways projects under CPEC through Public Sector Development Program (PSDP). Life of the project is 35 years, however the project would complete the returns in 20 years, sources added. The officials further said that special economic zones (CPEC) to be facilitated by ML-1 will help facilitate transportation of goods to and from China and the region.

The project comprises up-gradation and doubling of ML-1 from Karachi to Peshawar and Taxila to Havelian, which would be completed in 5 years. The project implementation would be carried out in two phases, namely Phase-1 and Phase-II. Railways officials said that preliminary design is in progress while PC-1 of Phase-I has been submitted to the Planning Commission and the same for the Phase-II is ready for submission. The PC-1 approval is necessary for bidding process, commercial contract and financial close while work on bidding documents for EPC contractor has been initiated. After the up-gradation, line capacity will increase from 34 to 171 trains each way per day, freight trains payload to increase from 1,650 to 3,400 tons, freight volumes to increase from 6 million tons to 35 million tons, number of passenger trains to be doubled while significant reduction in journey time of trains would be achieved. The meeting was also attended by Javed Anwar, Chairman Ministry of Railways, Aftab Akbar, CEO Pakistan Railways, Zubair Taimoor Ghilzai, Secretary Railway Board, and Maryam Gillani, DG Operations.

(This news/article originally appeared in Business Recorder on September 12th, 2018)

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