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Finance minister vows to support Railways upgradation

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ISLAMABAD:  Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar on Wednesday chaired a meeting to review the financing arrangements of the “Up-gradation of the Main-Line-1 (ML 1) of Pakistan Railways,” one of the early harvest projects of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique and Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal also participated in the meeting along with the secretaries concerned.

On the occasion, the finance minister said that the government is fully cognizant of the importance of Pakistan Railways as an important service provider to the people of Pakistan, adding that the government will make maximum effort to support the Railways up-gradation initiative.

He urged the Railways secretary to evaluate the up-gradation initiative in detail, keeping in sight the best possible utilisation of resources and the maximum value for money.

Meanwhile, the Railways minister thanked the finance minister for his positive approach and cooperation towards the national development projects.

The Railways secretary briefed Dar that the feasibility study of the project was complete and CDWP had already approved the PC-I of the project in June 2016. The secretary said that the project will be completed in a phased manner. In the first phase, the Karachi to Lahore and Taxila to Havalian portion of the ML1 will be undertaken, he added. “As the project was of vital importance to Pakistan, having long term financial, economic and social benefits, there was a pressing need to finance the project through concessional financing from various sources,” he said. Ministry of Railways had already sent a request to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms and the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) for arranging the loan for the project on favorable terms, he added. In this connection, the finance minister directed the EAD and the Ministry of Planning to explore possible sources of concessional financing including the Exim Bank of China and Asian Development Bank.

The up-gradation of the first phase ie Karachi-Lahore and Taxila to Havalian portion envisages locomotives, passenger coaches, freight wagons, signaling and telecommuting equipment, track maintenance equipment, workshop equipment, etc. While the material requirements are rails, rail fastenings, sleepers, ballast, bridge girders, turns outs, steel, concrete and cement, etc. Capacity building of officials and technical staff of Pakistan Railways is also part of the project.

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