ISLAMABAD-The Executive committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Wednesday approved the project of up gradation of Pakistan Railways existing Mainline-1 (ML-1) and establishment of dry port near Havelian at the rationalised cost of $6.806 billion on cost sharing basis between the governments of China and Pakistan.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the ECNEC.  Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting and Chairman of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority Lieutenant General (Retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa said that ECNEC has approved the transformational railway project at a cost of $6.806 billion from Peshawar to Karachi (1872 KMs) including Havelian Dry Port and upgrading Walton Academy.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said that ECNEC has approved biggest project (ML-1) in Pakistan’s history. He said that project would cost $6.806 billion. According to the ministry of finance, the execution of the project shall be in 3 packages and in order to avoid commitment charges, the loan amount for each package will be separately contracted. Under this project existing 2,655 KM track will be upgraded. The speed of passenger trains shall increase from 65/110 KM/h to 165 KM/h and line capacity will increase from 34 to 137/171 trains each way per day. Ministry of Railways would constitute a project steering committee for effective supervision and implementation of the project.

The line is 1,872 km long, including the 55 km long Taxila-Havelian section and 91 km long Lodhran-Khanewal section. The project envisages upgrade of ML-1, establishment of a dry port near Havelian Railway Station; upgrade of Pakistan Railway Academy Walton in Lahore; passenger facilities development of important railway stations, including Karachi, Hyderabad and Rohri in Sindh; Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi in Punjab; Naushehra and Peshawar in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The 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 centralized hub for submission and processing of 90 per cent of the licenses, permits, certificates and other documents (LPCOs) for external trade.

ECNEC also approved the change in cost sharing ratios of 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 29th August 2019.

Ph.D. Scholarship Programmememe 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 1500 scholarships) mainly due to appreciation of dollar rate against Pak-rupee and inclusion of tuition fee/ research grant.