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May 15, 2019

Expansion of rail track: Parliamentary panel seeks Pak-China accord details


May 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee has sought details of the agreement signed by Pakistan with China concerning expansion and reconstruction of Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar rail track. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways headed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Mueen Wattoo meets on May 17 and 20 to take up a heavy agenda.

Last month, Pakistan and China inked an agreement for the expansion and reconstruction of existing Karachi-Lahore Peshawar (ML-1) railway track. It was signed by Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid and Chinese envoy to Pakistan Yao Jing in Beijing.

According to the project details available on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) website, the entire track of 1872 km from Karachi to Peshawar would be doubled. The speed of passenger trains would be raised from 110 km per hour to 160 km per hour. However, the freight trains would operate at 120 km per hour. Computer-based signaling and control system will also be installed. As per the requisitions received under rule 225(4) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly from the members of the standing committee, its chairman convened the two meetings.

The first session will discuss the fiscal situation of Pakistan Railways in the first six months of the current government, benefit-cost ratio of newly launched passenger trains, and methodology of feasibility studies undertaken to launch new trains; and take a briefing on railways targets and deficit. It will be provided detail of new memorandums of understanding, if any, signed with China or any other country.

In the second meeting on May 20, the forum will discuss the report on the punctuality of trains in the last three years and financial viability of creatingnew jobs in Pakistan Railways.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile meeting on May 16 will get a briefing on crop loan/insurance schemes and export policy.

It will also be briefed and given the work plan for boosting agricultural exports; enhanced access to international markets; international trade in agriculture and organic products; and branding and intellectual property rights for agro-industry. The committee will take into consideration the letter/public petition received from Pakistan People’s Party leader Nafisa Shah concerning the blockade on date crop exports from Pakistan.

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