LAHORE - All railway level crossings on Main Line (ML1) would be eliminated by providing underpasses and flyovers as the feasibility report of the up-gradation of ML1 railway line from Karachi to Peshawar had been completed.

While addressing the Senate Standing Committee on Railways, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said the field work of up-gradation of the main line might start at end of the current fiscal year under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would take at least six years to complete.

The minister, earlier in a meeting held at Railways headquarters, said that Pakistan Railways would increase its passenger trains to around 175 from the present number of 32 after mainline up-gradation work is completed under CPEC. He said that train’s speed will increase by 160 kilometer per hour due to up-gradation of ML-1.

The minister said that China has agreed to provide a long-term loan on most favourable terms for the up-gradation of ML-1 from Karachi to Peshawar. He said that ML-1 is an important component of multi billion dollars CPEC project. He said that three other projects including Karachi Circular, Peshawar Mass Transit and Quetta Mass Transit projects have also been included in the CPEC.

He said that the infrastructure of Pakistan Railways will be used for the execution of the three projects. He assured that the federal government will extend full support including technical one for the completion of these projects.

The minister informed that the Punjab government was also planning to eliminate level crossings by providing underpasses through Public-Private Partnership. He informed the committee that in Punjab 436 unmanned levels of crossing were reported as vulnerable and an amount of Rs3.7 billion was required to upgrade all these vulnerable crossings.

He said 75 crossings had been upgraded at a cost of Rs610 million provided by the government of Punjab, whereas the Punjab government also agreed to provide Rs1,250 million for up-gradation of further 150 crossings.

Similarly, the Sindh government also agreed to provide full funding of Rs382 million for up-gradation of 45 vulnerable crossings. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rs314 million were required to upgrade the 37 vulnerable level crossings while in Balochistan Rs272 million were required for 32 railway crossings. In this regard, letters had been written to the chief secretaries for providing required funding for up-gradation of these level crossings.