Pakistan Railway $8 Billion Upgradation Project to start this Year

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Work on $8 Billion #CPEC #Railway Project (Upgradation of Mail Line-1 Peshawar to Karachi) to start this year

Construction work on $8 billion #China #Pakistan Economic Corridor’s project of Pakistan Railways – upgradation of Main Line-1 – is likely to start this year, it is learnt here reliably.

The inauguration of two phases of ML-I will simultaneously take place during 2017 while the 3rd phase will start after 2020, official sources told The Nation here on Friday. Upgradation of ML-1 is planned to be implemented in three phases with an estimated cost of 8.2 billion whereas the phase-I and II would be completed together in next five years, official source said.

Pakistan and China have signed framework agreement of the project during belt and road forum last month. “Signing of this agreement has paved way for implementation of the ML-I upgradation project and now there is no hurdle in its execution,” sources said. Pakistan and China have already completed the feasibility study of ML-1 and establishment of Havelian dry port in July 2016 as a prioritised/early harvest project under CPEC.

According the project details, ML-1 extends from #Kiamari (#Karachi) in the south to #Peshawar covering 1,726 kilometres and passing through #Hyderabad, #Rohri (#Sukkur), #Multan, #Lahore and #Rawalpindi stations. ML-1 also includes the 91 km chord line between #Lodhran and #Khanewal and the 55 km section between #Taxila and #Havelian. Thus ML-1 extends over a total of 1,872 kilometres. The entire railway track on ML-1 is broad gauge (1,676 mm or 5 feet 6 inches). It has 196 big and small railway stations.

The project focuses on upgradation of the track so as to facilitate operations of passenger trains at 160 km/h and freight trains at 120 km/h. The upgraded track would primarily follow the existing alignment, except where sharp curves are to be eased out or eliminated to allow higher speed. In phase one, it is planned to upgrade Multan-Lahore Section (334km) including upgradation of passenger facilities at Lahore and Multan stations as well as upgradation, overhauling of track and civil works at Hyderabad-Multan Section (748 km), including upgradation of passenger facilities at Hyderabad and Rohri (Sukkur) stations. It also envisages Kiamari-Hyderabad Section (182 km) overhauling of track and civil works, including upgradation of passenger facilities at Karachi Cantonment #Station.

The project also focuses on doubling of track between Peshawar and Rawalpindi (159 km) starting from Peshawar, including passenger facilitation of Rawalpindi and Peshawar stations. It also proposed construction work of realignment and doubling of track on Kaluwal–Pindora section (52km) as well establishment of a Dry Port near Havelian and academic and physical upgradation of Walton Railway Academy, Lahore.

Phase II of the project focuses upgradation and doubling of tracks between Taxila and Havelian (55 km), Lahore-Lalamusa Section (132 km, Rawalpindi-Lalamusa Section (170 km). It also proposes construction of new line on Karachi-Kotri/Hyderabad (163 km). In the third phase beyond year 2020, Pakistan Railways has proposed further upgradation of Pakistan Walton Academy, Lodhran-Khanewal Section via chord (91 km) and completion of electrification of ML-1. It also suggests comprehensive commercial development of 8 railway stations along ML-1, namely, Karachi, Hyderabad, Rohri (Sukkur), Multan, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta.

Pakistan Railways’ data showed that in the year 2014-15, it carried 52.95 million passengers (20.3 billion passenger kilometres) and 3.6 million tons of freight (3.3 billion ton kilometres). A more realistic picture of the potential of Pakistan Railways as a carrier of passenger and freight is reflected in the figures of the averages of the years 2005-2010 wherein it carried 80.5 million passengers and carried 6.5 million tons of freight. More than 80 percent of the revenue generated by PR comes from trains operating on ML-1. 80pc of entire traffic of PR would move via ML-1 and the passenger and freight traffic would increase proportionately on the upgraded lines. The freight traffic pattern would be that loaded trains would leave the ports of Karachi for up country destinations and return mostly empty in the down direction. Nominal freight traffic of 3pc to 10pc in the down direction has been forecasted from 2020 to 2025 which would increase to 15pc in 2030 and 25pc in 2040.

It is estimated that the number of passengers travelling on ML-1 in 2021 would be 75.49 million. Once the track from Karachi to Peshawar has been up graded, a 5pc increase per annum in passenger traffic has been assumed up to 2025. Thus in 2026, 96.35 million passengers are expected to travel on ML-1 and from 2025 to 2030 an annual increase of 3pc has been assumed and as such the total passengers travelling would increase to 111.70 million in 2031. 70 percent of the population and cities are spread along the ML-1. The completion of this project will provide convenient and low-cost transportation for cargo and passengers.

It is pertinent to mention here that in previous CPEC progress review meeting, Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal has directed the Higher Education Commission to ensure immediate introduction of academic programmes in the sector of transport engineering, emphasizing that engineering universities across Pakistan should establish linkages for accruing technical skills and experiences from ML-1 upgradation project.