ML-1 to prove as a catalyst for uplift of Pakistan Railways

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Pakistan Railways

ISLAMABAD: After the refurbishment and modernization of Main Line-1 (ML-1), the Pakistan Railways (PR) will not only improve and enhance passenger traffic, but also revamp freight haulage, Syed Mir Badshah, an former senior official of Pakistan Railways, told WealthPK.
ML-1 is the economic backbone of Pakistan, as it rolls through around 75 percent of the country’s population and over 80 percent of industries. It is highly significant in boosting the country’s growth and income and can uplift and develop the railways, he explained.
He said there were three scopes of ML-1 project: first, the track will be doubled, including underpasses and flyovers, for movement of passengers and freight; second, construction of a dry port for transhipment of goods to the northern areas; and finally, upgradation of Walton Training Centre.
In addition, all these improvements and upgradation will lead to an increase in train speed, capacity, and freight volume which will ultimately help reduce the time and cost for the daily train operations, he maintained.
According to the WealthPK research, the state-owned enterprise (SOE) is currently handling only four percent of freight traffic which is envisaged to be increased to over 20 percent, while globally almost 50 percent of the freight traffic is hauled by railways.
Moreover, the CPEC Authority stated that the upgradation and doubling of ML-1 will raise the train speed from 65-105Km to 120-160Km per hour. It also includes rehabilitation and construction of major bridges, which will provide modern signalling and telecom system, conversion of level crossings into underpasses and flyovers, fencing of tracks, establishment of a dry port near Havelian, and upgradation of the Walton Training Academy.
It is important to mention that the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved PC-1 for upgradation of ML-1 on 5th August 2020 at a streamlined cost of $6.8 billion.
As per an official document, ML-1 has three different parts including package-1 of the project at a cost of $2.7 billion which includes Nawabshah-Rohri section (183km), Multan-Lahore section (339km), Lahore-Lalamusa section (132km), Kaluwal-Pindora section (52km) and upgradation of the Walton Academy Lahore.
Under Package-II, $2.67 billion was approved for upgradation of Kimari-Hyderabad section (182km) and Hyderabad-Multan section (566km) excluding the work done on Nawabshah-Rohri section in Package-I.
Furthermore, under Package-III, the ECNEC approved an amount of $1.42 billion for construction of Lalamusa-Rawalpindi section (105km), Rawalpindi – Peshawar section (174km), and establishment of a dry port near Havelian.
Besides the major revamp and development of the railway line, ML-1 will efficiently prevent railway accidents and reduce travel time between Peshawar and Karachi. It will also promote tourism and is expected to provide employment opportunities to thousands of local people. – INP