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Rail connectivity of Gwadar Port with other parts of the country is not on the priority under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework, as it requires over $4 billion but currently does not present any favourable business model, said officials of Railways Ministry.
"The overall up-gradation of Pakistan Railways (PR) is estimated to cost $40-50 billion, which the government itself cannot finance," said Chief Executive Pakistan Railways Aftab Akbar, adding that international investors had been invited to invest on ML-2 and ML-3 on built-operate-transfer (BoT) basis, public-private partnership (PPP) or joint ventures (JVs).
This he stated while briefing a sub-committee of Senate Standing Committee on Railways, which met with John Kenneth Williams in the chair. The parliamentary panel was given a detailed briefing on Pakistan Railways projects relating to CPEC and the initiatives taken by Pakistan Railways.
Briefing the committee, the PR officials said CPEC project for Railways would consist of early harvest - ML-1 up-gradation and establishment of dry port - mid-term - establishing new rail link from Gwadar to Mastung and Besima to Jacobabad - and long-term - establishing new rail link from Havelian to Khunjrab (China border).
China and Pakistan were expected to reach an agreement for finances on ML-1 soon, said Railways officials, adding that estimated cost of up-gradation of ML-1 and dry port was $8.2 billion which would be completed in five years in two phases. The project of up-gradation of ML-1 has been declared a strategic commercial project with loan on favourable terms as it presents a perfect business plan covering 75 percent traffic/population and 65 percent industrial areas.
The meeting was told that up-gradation of Main Line-1 and establishment of dry port near Havelian was an early harvest project which was to be completed by 2025.
The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) will consider the $3.4 billion phase-1 of up-gradation of Pakistan Railways' Main Line-1 and establishment of dry port near Havelian projects under the CPEC in April (current month) after the completion of preliminary design.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019