LAHORE - The double rail track between Lodhran and Raiwind, completed in 12 years due to funds shortage, will be inaugurated today, with completion of the doubling of Karachi-Lahore track after the lapse of 68 years.

The only double-track routes the Pakistan Railways inherited after independence in 1947 were the Karachi-Lodhran track and the 15km track between Raiwind and Lahore, at either ends of the country’s most important mainline. To handle the growing traffic, the Railways had started doubling the Lodhran-Raiwind track in 2003. Due to shortage of funds from the former federal governments, the project took around 12 years to be completed.

A high official of the Railways told The Nation that the 370km route was completed at cost of around Rs40 billion. The PR, the Frontier Works Organisation and some other private parties jointly completed the track. The Railways successfully completed its installation in November 2015 but the formal inauguration ceremony is being held today.

PM Nawaz Sharif is likely to open the track in Raiwind. However, in case of change in schedule due to the PM’s busyness at Islamabad, Punjab Governor Malik Rafique Rajwana, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and other PML-N stalwarts will inaugurate the track.

The doubling of the tack has been completed in different phases. The first 15km of the Lodhran-Multan-Khanewal section was completed by May 2005, when the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council had approved funds of Rs8.3bn to complete the route to Raiwind. Later, the cost of the project increased with reconstruction of around 87 bridges and closure of 15 others.

The dualisation of Lodhran-Khanewal track via Multan was commenced and opened for traffic on March 16, 2007. The section between Khanewal and Sahiwal had already been completed and inaugurated by the Railways former minister on May 5, 2011 while the remaining track was completed in November 2015. The project will help Pakistan Railways improve efficiency as two different tracks will be available for running goods and passenger trains. It will also reduce travel time between Karachi and Lahore. It will facilitate the Prem Nagar Dry Port and Sunder Industrial Estate besides generating revenues for the national exchequer.