,The government has asked Ministry of Railways to update the PC-1 for re-submission before Planning Commission with expectation that its cost would go up beyond $10 billion
Although the coronavirus epidemic has negatively impacted the Chinese economy, Pakistani authorities seem confident that the multi billion project of ML-1 would be on ground from next fiscal year 2020-21, perhaps in July, after completion of all procedural/approval requirements before June 2020.
Top official sources confirmed that the Ministry of Railways was given deadline of end of ongoing month for submission of updated PC-1 of ML-1, as it was told during one of top level meeting held under Minister for Planning Asad Umar in second week of February 2020 that the concerned ministry has completed over 90% designing work of the project.
Now the Ministry of Railways has been assigned to align the cost, along with designing of the project, and its cost is set to go up beyond $10 billion against earlier estimates of $9.2 billion. Under ML-1, the rail line from Peshawar to Karachi will be modernised after which the speed of train will be increased up to 160km/hour from existing level of 60/80km per hour.
“The biggest question arising before the policy makers is that who will run the modernised railways after the completion of ML-1,” said one top official, One of the proposal under consideration was to handover the railways to the Chinese for period of three to five years because the existing workforce of Pakistan Railways would not be able to run the modernised rail that would be run through computerised technology. .