China to help Pakistan overhaul its Railway Network

BY Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is winning hearts in Pakistan. This project has emerged on Pakistan’s horizon as the biggest source of jobs for Pakistani youth. Various projects under CPEC have employed more than 75000 youth in Pakistan.

Pakistan and China have recently launched Main Line One ( ML-One) project of railway worth $6.8 billion USD which aims to modernize existing railway system in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Main Line-One project is all set to create thousands of jobs for Pakistan’s youth and asked key ministers of his cabinet to make sure this project completes in due time.

“CPEC is central to Pakistan’s economy and a game changer. Meanwhile, the Main Line-One project is backbone of CPEC which will not only modernize and strengthen Pakistan Railways, but also create thousands of jobs for skilled people and boost industrialization in the country,” State-run Radio Pakistan quoted Imran Khan as saying.

“It’s a key project of the CPEC which is a game changer,” Imran told members of his cabinet while chairing a meeting about ML-1 in Islamabad on Monday.
The Prime Minister emphasized said the ML-1 project will provide better travel and freight facilities to the people of the country and will open up a new chapter of socio-economic development.

“Look! ML-1 will ensure high speed freight trains which will reduce time and cost of doing business and facilitate the business community,” Imran Khan said.
It’s worth mention that under ML-1 project existing 2,655-kilometre (KM) track would be upgraded and speed of passenger trains would increase from 110kms per hour to 165kms per hour while line capacity would increase from 34 to 171 trains each way per day.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Railways has already constituted a project steering committee for the effective supervision and implementation of the project.
The ML-1 project is also expected to create thousands of jobs for locals.
According to authorities of Pakistan and China, CPEC is expected to create as many as 700,000 new job opportunities for locals until 2030.

Documents seen by this correspondent revealed that various CPEC projects have employed around 75,000 Pakistanis across the country.
A recent study conducted by CPEC Centre of Excellence, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform of Pakistan showed that indirectly, CPEC could help create even 1.2 million jobs under its presently agreed project.

“So for, energy projects under CPEC have been the biggest source of jobs in Pakistan. Roads, Motorways and infrastructure projects under CPEC comes at second slot when it comes to provide jobs to Pakistanis,” a senior Pakistani official told this correspondent. He couldn’t give breakup of jobs when asked.

“ML-1 project will begin a new era of progress and economic uplift,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by Pakistan’s state run radio.

While Prime Minister Imran Khan didn’t give exact number of jobs ML-1 would create, however, Pakistani officials say as many as 100,000 to 150,000 Pakistanis are expected to get jobs in ML-1. This project is known as upgradation of Pakistan railway’s Mainline (ML-1) worth billions of US dollars.

Following extensive debates and deliberations, Pakistan’s Executive Committee of National Economic Council (CNEC) has recently given green signal to upgrade Pakistan Railways’ Mainline-1 (ML-1) at estimated cost of $6.806 billion (equal to PKR 11.44 trillion) under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“Executive Committee of National Economic Council (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 announced in a tweet soon after much discussed project earlier this month.

According to officials of Pakistan’s Ministry of planning, first package of ML1 will be completed between January 2021 and December 2024. This package involves construction of 527km of track between Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The second package, which will be completed between January 2022 and December 2026 which involves upgradation of 521km of track between Lahore and Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, third package will upgrade 740km track along the Rawalpindi – Peshawar and Hyderabad – Multan lines.

According to Shaikh Rasheed, Pakistan’s federal Minister for Railway, ML1 project serves as backbone of CPEC and it will create 100,000 to 150,000 jobs.
“ML1 is most important project of CPEC which is backbone of One Belt One Road (OBR) it will create 150,000 jobs for local Pakistanis,” Rashid told this correspondent over telephone. Sheikh Rashid added that China will bear 90% of total cost of upgradation of ML1.

ML1 projects is all set to connect China to Pakistan’s Gwadar port by the end of 2025.

Ahsan Iqbal, former federal Minister for planning and development believes ML1 project will prove to be a game changer.

“Pakistan’s railway system has been in dire need of upgradation for long time. We are grateful to China for pledging support to upgrade century’s old rail and road network in Pakistan. ML1 will lay foundation of a prosperity in Pakistan. Long Live Pakistan-China friendship,” Ahsan told this correspondent.

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