Pakistan and China to Sign Loan Agreement for ML-1 Rail Project

The new Pakistani government is reportedly close to signing a loan agreement with China for the development of the Main Line 1 railway project. This ML-1 Rail Project can improve the existing railway system of the country.

The upcoming government of Pakistan plans to conclude negotiations with Chinese authorities on the financing terms for the Main Line-1 (ML-1 rail project), a key initiative under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

According to Amir Ali Baloch, Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan Railways (PR), discussions will focus on the loan’s interest rate, repayment period, and other financial conditions.

This development follows the completion of all preparatory stages of the project, with only the loan agreement pending.

The ML-1 rail project aims to upgrade and modernize Pakistan’s railway infrastructure. The revised cost of $6.678 billion, down from the initial estimate of $9.85 billion, has been agreed upon.

Representatives of both countries formalized this cost adjustment through an addendum signed during the Belt & Road Initiative forum on October 17 and 18, 2023.

The project will execute in phases, spanning 1,726 kilometers. It will enhance connectivity between Karachi, Multan, Lahore, and Peshawar, with speeds potentially reaching up to 160 km per hour after further upgrades. This project aims to make it faster, smoother, and safer by adding new tracks, better technology, and maybe even zippier trains!

Proposed Outcomes

In addition to infrastructure development, PR is expanding its modernization efforts to include the introduction of state-of-the-art restaurant cars on three express trains within the next few months, as part of its broader initiative to enhance passenger services.

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The project is a significant milestone in the development of infrastructure in Pakistan and is part of the broader collaboration under the CPEC framework between Pakistan and China. Once finalized, the loan agreement will pave the way for the smooth execution of the project, benefiting the transportation sector and enhancing connectivity within the country. The new government is still finalizing the details of the loan agreement with China.

Once signed, the loan agreement will officially kickstart the project. Given its scale, completing it will require some time, but it’s anticipated to deliver significant benefits to Pakistan’s transportation system and economy.

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