DESPARDES — The government on Monday formally decided to expedite the $8.2 billion Karachi to Peshawar rail upgradation project on soft loans from China rather than going for Build, Own and Operate (BOT) method.
The government reverted to the original ML-1 plan on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode under previously agreed concessionary loan as part of the CPEC.
Build, Own and Transfer (BOT) basis was being considered earlier by the federal cabinet.
According to the original framework agreement of May 2017, China will provide 85% of the project cost as a concessionary loan. The project has been declared strategically important by both countries.
The 1872km rail upgrade project [ML-1] will be completed in three phases, and will take six years to complete – from the day of its groundbreaking.
Presiding over a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on the ML-1 project, the prime minister said: “The common man travels in trains and, therefore, there is a need to make safe the journey and assets of the Pakistan Railways.”
The meeting was also attended by Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Secretary of Railways Sikandar Sultan Raja and ECO of Railways Muhammad Aftab Akbar.
At present, the Pakistan Railways is picking up less than 4% of the traffic volume of the country, which the government intends to increase to at least 20% by 2025.