Islamabad : The Ministry of Railways has signed a contract with a consortium to prepare the feasibility of planned train service between Pakistan and China as a joint venture between the two countries, said Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour.
Talking to this news agency, the minister said both the countries are going to execute a joint venture for a freight train service what he said would be upgraded to the passenger train service, keeping in view the needs of the people, particularly the business class.
“The government has awarded a Rs. 72 million contract to an international consortium to carry out a feasibility study for establishing a rail link with China to boost trade relations between the two countries,” he said.
The preparation of the feasibility study is to be followed by the preparation of design and PC-1 of the project.
The feasibility study will cover a 750-kilometer section between Havelian and the 4,730-meter-high Khunjerab crossing over Mansehra district and the Karakoram Highway.
Havelian is already linked with the rest of the rail network in Pakistan; the Chinese will lay some 350 km of track within their own territory from Kashgar terminus up to the Khunjerab Pass, linking Pakistan with China’s rail network, largely following the route of the Karakoram Highway.
Pakistan Railways and China’s Dong Fang Electric Supply Corp signed an agreement for establishing a rail link between Havelian and Khunjerab.
Recently, the railways minister had also paid a week-long official visit to China and discussed the various means to execute the project within minimum possible time to cope with the growing load of freight and passengers.
He said during China visit, the project was discussed thoroughly, adding that apparently no hiccup seems in the execution of the project, so both the countries would strive for its early execution.
“The Chinese government also consented to extend cooperation with Pakistan for execution of six development projects,” the minister added.
Bilour said that Pakistan and China also agreed to establish a consortium for various projects, including the laying of railway track up to Iran and Afghanistan and construction of coaches in Pakistan.
“For the successful execution of the project, a six-member committee has been constituted comprising each three members from both Pakistan and China and added that China has finalized the names of the committee members but Pakistan is yet to do that,” he said.
The minister hoped that the consortium to be set up with Chinese companies would lay standard gauge tracks up to the borders of Afghanistan, Iran and China.