Gwadar-Quetta rail link feasibility study in six months LAHORE: Pakistan Railways is expected to complete the feasibility study of the Gwadar-Quetta rail link project in the next six months with an estimated cost of Rs 125 million. The Planning Commission of Pakistan has also called a meeting of the Railways management to seek briefing on the so far progress made over the preparations of the feasibility report.
The meeting will be held in Islamabad on Tuesday (04-05-2004). Located at the entrance of the Persian Gulf and about 460kms from Karachi, Gwadar has had immense geo-strategic significance on many accounts. PR officials claimed that this project will enable the PR to capture the transit trade of the Central Asian Republic (CAR) as well as Afghanistan.
The project, according to some insiders, will be completed in the year 2006-07 if started in time and no blockage of funds occurred. Pakistan Railways is striving hard to provide quality service to the passengers for which the company has already started three different plans of rebuilding and modernisation of the train service besides working in full swing on the feasibility study of the Gwadar-Quetta Rail Link project, they added. The estimated project cost is Rs 40 million per kilometre because the entire track passes through desert and rugged areas and the PR management is spending funds on the feasibility study from its own resources. Presently, there is also no plan to link Gwadar port with Karachi port through rail.
After completion of the feasibility report, the project will be completed on turn key basis. The single track railways line will be around 650 to 700 kilometer long. The track was not electrified because of the non-availability of electricity in the area. It is pertinent to mention here that the PR and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) have no coordination regarding the project and WAPDA is planning its own project for providing electricity at the Gwadar Port’s project.
The Gwadar-Quetta rail link will also be linked with the Chaman-Qandhar railways Link as the PR management has completed the feasibility report of the Chaman-Qandhar project to achieve the goal of capturing the traffic of Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics. The PR is foreseeing freight traffic more than the passenger traffic on this route because the area is low populated, said PR’s General Manager (Operations) Aurengzeb Khan while talking to The News on Saturday.
“Despite low profitability, the PR is taking full interest in the project because it is of national importance,” he added. The PR will ply all types of locomotives except electrical locomotives on the track, said GM (Operations). He said the PR is purchasing 1300 locomotives from China and out of these 65 locomotives had so far reached Pakistan. Answering a question regarding the project’s completion, he said it is too early to comment.
He, however, said that the project’s completion depends on the approval from the government as well as allocation of funds from the federal government in the coming budget. Unveiling railways’ other future expansion and rehabilitation plans, the GM said an agreement has been signed with a Chinese company for manufacture & supply of 175 modern design passenger carriages.
To meet with the requirement of additional traffic, construction of additional platform at Karachi Cantt has been planned as it will not be possible to run additional trains from Karachi unless additional facilities are created. PC.I for rehabilitation of 450 passenger carriages has been submitted to Planning Division. Under this project, 100 new bogies as per latest design will be manufactured. Forty first class sleeper carriages will be converted into Lower A.C. Carriages.
Ten economy class carriages will be converted into power vans. About taking more steps in future to curtail railway’s expenditure, Aurangzeb Khan revealed that electric consumption of Railways will be cut down further and Sui Gas connections will be handed over to Sui Northern Gas to avoid extra expenditure on bulk supply. Besides, the railways is also making a plan to reduce train services on unprofitable routes.