Islamabad: The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has approved the USD 9.85 billion Pakistan Railways (PR) Main-Line-1 (ML-1) project, news sources reported on October 20.
The project is recommended to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for final approval. The project is approved in principle, with a 45% increase in construction costs over the original estimate. According to the amended cost plan, the project’s development work has been divided into two parts, with the first phase concerned with the actual construction of the ML-1, which would cost PKR 1.97 trillion. The second phase would cost PKR 35.991 billion and is concerned with ML-1’s security during development.
The new Project Concept-1 (PC-1) will rehabilitate a 1,733-kilometer-long route, with 482 underpasses, 53 flyovers, 130 bike bridges, and 130 stations built along the way. It was highlighted that the first phase will be completed in three separate packages, with Package-I consisting of five components, including the Nawabshah-Rohri section, the Multan-Lahore section, the Lahore-Lalamusa section, the Kaluwal-Pandora section, and the Upgradation of Pakistan Railways Training Academy (Walton).
Furthermore, the scope of the project included the following:
- Laying of a new track with improved subgrade for 160 kilometre-per-hour (km/h) to increase speed from 65-105 (km/h) to 120-160 (km/h)
- Rehabilitation and construction of significant bridges
- Provision of modern signalling & telecom systems
- Conversion of level crossings into underpasses and flyovers
- Fencing of tracks
- Establishment of the dry port near Havelian
It is important to mention that the framework agreement of the ML-1 project was signed on May 15, 2017, during the prime minister’s visit to China. The commercial contract for the preliminary design was also signed on May 15, 2017. The project had been declared ‘strategic’ by the 6th JCC meeting, and its feasibility had already been completed and approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in August 2020.