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First phase of Railways upgrade under CPEC to begin next month


02/03/18   RAWALPINDI DawnNews: The first phase of the $3.2 billion project to upgrade Pakistan Railways under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will begin next month, and will cut the duration of the Rawalpindi-Lahore journey by two hours.
A senior Railways official told Dawn that the total share for Pakistan Railways under CPEC is $8.2bn. The government has decided to begin the first phase, worth $3.2bn, to upgrade four sections of the rail track.
“These sections are Rawalpindi to Lahore, Kaluwal to Pindora, Lahore to Multan and Rohari to Nawab Shah. The sharp curves [on the 52 kilometre] Kaluwal to Pindora [track] will be improved to make it straight,” the official said.
Upgrade to cut duration of Rawalpindi-to-Lahore train journey by two hours
He added that the duration of the journey from Rawalpindi to Lahore will be reduced from hour hours and 30 minutes to two hours and 30 minutes, after the removal of sharp curves.
He said the up-gradation of the track will increase the train’s speed from 90km per hour to 120km per hour.
The official said a dual track will be laid on these sections, and the signalling system will be improved as well.
He said the replacement of the outdated signalling system is already in progress from Lahore to Lalamusa, and the system from Lalamusa to Peshawar will be improved in the first phase of CPEC.
“The work will be completed within a year, and it will not disturb the existing track. Passenger and freight services on these sections will continue as per routine. The programme has been finalised under the project in this regard,” the official said.
He said Ministry of Railways and Pakistan Railways have completed feasibility studies and readied plans to launch the project. “Financial issues will be resolved in a few days and work will be started next month,” he said.
Another Railways official said that upgrading the rail track will also improve freight services in the region.
He said Railways had begun negotiations with the Rawalpindi and Islamabad chambers of commerce and industry to move goods between Rawalpindi and Islamabad through Railways.
The freight service between the twin cities will be launched in a week or two, he said, and would allow traders to send their goods on freight trains from Margalla Railway Station to the Rawalpindi and Chaklala railway stations.
When contacted, Divisional Commercial Officer Raza Ali Habib confirmed that the upgrading of the tracks from Rawalpindi to Lahore would increase train speeds and reduce the duration of the journey by two hours.
He added that Railways had begun work to improve freight services and would soon launch new services from traders and industrialists from the twin cities in this regard.
“We already replaced the kerosene oil lamps for the signalling system in the section and the overall work to improve the signalling system will be done under CPEC,” he said, adding that a new signalling system has been installed along the Kohat-Rawalpindi section, which launched a month ago.

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