Official sources, however confirmed that the execution and implementation of Pakistan Railways (PR) projects with an estimated cost of $8.2 billion under the CPEC framework will have to wait till the next government comes into power, as it requires the final go-ahead from Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).
A delegation of CREC, lead of Chinese consortium in terms of the framework agreement, called on Muhammad Javed Anwar, Chairman Ministry of Railways (MoR).
They discussed progress on ML-I project. Chairman, MoR, while highlighting importance of ML-I project, informed that it is an early harvest and a strategic project of CPEC framework. The project is expected to transmute railways system in Pakistan.
The feasibility study of preliminary design of Phase I of project has been completed and is in the final stages of review process so that next steps of project implementation could be initiated on priority. Both sides also discussed areas of cooperation in railways sector.
The meeting was also attended by Sun, Head of Pakistan Mission of CREC and Mazhar Ali Shah, DG Planning.
Sources said that PR with its own resources has completed the feasibility study and preliminary design of ML-1 to be upgraded under the CPEC project in five years with the objective to have greater say in project implementations.
Railways Ministry had submitted PC-I for ten sub-projects of phase-I under the CPEC framework at a cost of $3.4 billion to Ministry of Planning Development & Reform, and has been approved by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP). However, Railways projects now require ECNEC’s approval, which is possible only after the new government comes into office. Sources said that after the approval from ECNEC, Railways projects under CPEC would come into bidding process.
“There is no delay in the start of Main Line-1 project under CPEC , but it is a huge, multi-disciplinary project, at an estimated cost of $8.2 billion which is likely to increase on finalization of preliminary design for the bidding process”, sources added.
Due diligence and prudence, in finalization of this huge project is taking time which is considered essential for processing the project cycle. Up-gradation of ML-I of PR (Karachi to Peshawar and Taxila to Havelian) and establishment of dry port near Havelian is an “early harvest project” under CPEC framework and estimated to be completed by 2020.
Initially, the financial support to PR under the CPEC was estimated at $5.7 billion, which were later increased to $8.2 billion after approval of the new framework. With the up-gradation of ML-1, train’s speed will increase to 160 km/h compared to the current 120km/h while train capacity would be increased from the current 32 to 171 trains per day.
PR has planned to upgrade/overhaul infrastructure of ML-1 under CPEC framework including track, bridges, tunnels, buildings, signaling, telecommunication systems, track maintenance system, rolling stock maintenance and overhauling facilities, establishment of dry port near Havelian, besides dualisation of track between Peshawar and Shahdara.