CPEC’s $7.2bn strategic project approved

ISLAMABAD: The government has approved Pakistan Railways’ Mainline-I Project at a cost of $7.2 billion after negotiating with China and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Mega Railway Line project is the only declared strategic project by China and Pakistan under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The project has been submitted to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) for further approval.

The project will be inaugurated by the Chinese president, in the upcoming visit to Pakistan.

Under the ML-I project, the authorities will dualise and upgrade the 1,872km railway track extending from Peshawar to Karachi.

Once approved by the Government of Pakistan, the Chinese financial institutions will initiate the negotiations for financing arrangements. The final commercial contract will then be signed between the employer and the contractor.

After completion, the speed of passenger trains will increase from 65/110 km/h to 160 km/h. Likewise, the speed of the cargo trains will also increase to 120km/h from 80 km/hour.

According to the ML-I Framework Agreement, the project will be executed in Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) mode.

Work on the ML-I will be carried out under different packages.

Under package-1 of the ML-I, a 527km long track will be constructed between Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The work will begin in January 2021 and is scheduled to be completed till December 2024.

To be launched in January 2022, under package-2, the 521km long track extending from Lahore to Hyderabad will be upgraded. The work is scheduled to be concluded in December 2026.

Under package 3, the 740km track of Rawalpindi-Peshawar and Hyderabad-Multan will be upgraded.

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