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August 6, 2020

Ecnec approves Railways’ most-important project, ML-1

Top Story

August 6, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Wednesday approved upgradation of Pakistan Railways’ Mainline-1 (ML-1) at estimated cost of $6.806 billion (equal to Rs11.44 trillion) under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“Alhamdolillah, Ecnec has approved the transformational railway project at a cost of $6.806 billion from Peshawar to Karachi (1,872km) including Havelian Dry Port and upgrading the Walton Academy,” Chairman CPEC Authority Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa stated in a tweet on Wednesday.

However, former PML-N Minister Ahsan Iqbal stated that ML-1 CPEC game changer project for Pak Railways was agreed in 2016 with the Chinese side. Technical feasibility was completed in 2018. He said he was pleased that finally Ecnec has approved the ML-1 project after delay of two years but token allocation of Rs6 billion in the budget is inadequate to start the project.

According to official announcement made after the meeting, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of Ecnec here at the Cabinet Division.

The project of Pakistan Railways for “upgradation of Pakistan Railways existing Mainline-1 (ML-1) and establishment of dry port near Havelian” was also approved by Ecnec at the rationalised cost of $6,806.783 million on cost sharing basis between the governments of China and Pakistan. The execution of the project shall be in three packages and in order to avoid commitment charges, the loan amount for each package will be separately contracted. Under this project, the existing 2,655km track will be upgraded. The speed of passenger trains shall increase from 65/110 km/hr to 165 km/hr and line capacity will increase from 34 to 137/171 trains each way per day. The Ministry of Railways would constitute a project steering committee for effective supervision and implementation of the project.

Ecnec approved the Pakistan Single Window (PSW) project, FBR shall be the sponsoring agency for this project. The total cost of the project shall be Rs11,074.16 million including Rs9,020 million as FEC. The project shall be completed by June 2023 and it is expected to enhance Pakistan’s global ranking in cross border trade related indicators. It will also serve as the integration point bridging cargo/logistics systems and other trade related processes. The project will provide an automated single-entry centralised hub for submission and processing of 90 percent of the licences, permits, certificates and other documents (LPCOs) for external trade.

Ecnec also approved the change in cost sharing ratios of the ADB and its co-financing partners for “Construction of BRT Red Line Project, Karachi” at the total cost of Rs78,384.33 million including FEC of Rs66,378.33 million (with cattle based bio-methane as fuel technology). The project was already approved by Ecnec on August 29, 2019.

The PhD scholarship programme under US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor (phase-1) was also approved by Ecnec at the revised cost of Rs25,226.274 million including FEC of Rs24,303.543 million. In the revised PC-1, the scope of the project has been curtailed to 1000 scholarships (from 1,500 scholarships) mainly due to appreciation of dollar rate against Pak-rupee and inclusion of tuition fee/ research grant.