Minister urges investment in railways

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Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique urged the Islamic Development Bank.

Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique urged the Islamic Development Bank and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Trade and Development Bank to promote investment in railways to ensure better connectivity among ECO states.

“I have already talked to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and would urge IDB and ECO Trade and Development Bank to contribute to economic and social development of the ECO region,” said Rafique, while addressing the 9th high-level working group meeting of ECO Container Train on Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul route.

He said that the government is determined to provide sovereign guarantee to IDB and the consortium and may provide financing terms of trade to Pakistan from Quetta/Taftan section connecting Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey.

“We have already arranged approximately $8 billion financing to upgrade the main line ML-1 with the Chinese institutions. Arrangement of finances for linking Gwadar with railways networks is also underway.”

The minister said that in 2015 the overall GDP of the ECO countries was $4.7 trillion and total intra-ECO trade volume stood at only $58 billion, which was far below its true potential.

“I am confident that the target of ECO union 2025 will be realized through trade, transportation and cross border movements and infrastructure improvement.”

He informed that Pakistan Railway is working on a master plan to upgrade its three main arteries; ML-1 from Peshawar to Karachi, ML-2 from Attock to Kotri and ML-3 from Quetta to Taftan and from Iran and Turkey.

The minister said that poor condition of railways track from Quetta to Taftan is a major bottleneck in regional connectivity and onwards to Europe while the rail links from Chaman to Spin Boldak to Kandahar and onwards connecting to Turkmenistan is also under consideration.

“This will ensure that Gwadar sea port is used to its full potential to transport goods to Afghanistan and landlocked Central Asian Republics.”