ISLAMABAD: The railways ministry signed a contract on Thursday with China’s Jinan Railway Vehicles Equipment Company for the supply of 800 hopper wagons, a railroad freight car, which will be used to transport coal from Port Bin Qasim to power plants, including the Qadirabad power plant near Sahiwal.

The vehicles equipment company is a subsidiary of the China CNR Corporation. It is now one of China’s major manufacturers of railway freight wagons. Pakistan Railways Director Procurement Ziauddin Qureshi and the chief executive of China CNR signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.

Under the terms of agreement, Jinan will supply 200 complete built units (CBU) wagons and 580 complete knock-down (CKD) wagons to be manufactured at the Mughalpura railway workshop. It was decided that five freight trains will operate daily from Port Bin Qasim to Qadirabad to transport 12,000 tons of coal for power projects.

According to the ministry, the total cost of 800 wagons was estimated to be Rs3.92 billion. They said that the wagons will supplied within six to 10 months.

These freight cars have an automatic discharge mechanism with a discharging time of 30 seconds. Loading can be done from the top while unloading can be carried from the sides through a pneumatic door operating mechanism as well as manually.

Minister for Railways Saad Rafiq, who was present at the event, said that Pakistan Railways will earn Rs6bn per annum by transporting coal from Port Qasim to coal-based power plants. He added that Pakistan Railways saved Rs1bn through re-tendering of the project. Among the bids, the Jinan company was the lowest at a total cost of Rs3.92bn.

Mr Rafiq said that the ministry was finalising another contract for the purchase of 585 hopper wagons and tenders for this purpose will be issued soon.

Pakistan Railways has already signed a contract with the General Electric (GE) of the United States for the supply of 55 diesel electric locomotives at a cost of Rs22.44bn. These locomotives will also be used for the transportation of coal.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2016