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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways is expecting to handle over 20 percent of the country’s freight business after the completion of Main Line-I (ML-I) under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would help the department make it a profitable entity. Currently, Pakistan Railways is transporting only four percent of freight traffic in the country which was not sufficient for the department, an official in the Ministry of Railways told APP on Sunday.

He said that the ML-I had been planned to be executed in three packages, adding, preliminary design of the project has been completed and a formal request for the loan for Package-I has been conveyed to the Chinese side. ML-I is 1872-kilometer long track from Peshawar to Karachi and expected to create around 24,000 jobs and would jump up train speed to 160 kilometres per hour, he added.

He said that railway line would be upgraded from Karachi to Peshawar and Taxila to Havelian while a new track would be laid with improved sub grade for 160km per hour. Bridges will also be rehabilitated and constructed, he added.

Moreover, he said, provision of modern signalling and telecom systems, conversion of level-crossing into underpasses or flyovers, fencing of track, establishment of dry port near Havelian and up-gradation of Walton Training Academy (Lahore) are also the components of this gigantic project. He further told that completion of the project would not only create direct (20,000 local labour/technical experts and 4,000 Chinese experts) jobs but also reduce travel time between Karachi to Lahore from 18 to 10 hours. The official said that the capacity of the line would also be increased from 34 trains to 170 trains per day and speed of the freight trains would be increased at 120 km/h.

After its completion, he said, the project would generate economic opportunities for daily wagers in main train stations of major cities and would also attract the foreign investment.

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