TAXILA: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the Main Line-1 (ML-1) railway network would ensure massive economic activity in the country, besides creating job opportunities.
He was speaking at the upgrade ceremony of Hassan Abdal railway station on Friday, first built during the British rule 127 year ago.
He said that ML-1 would significantly contribute to economic activity with transformation of the existing structure into modern railways, creation of job opportunities and ease of doing business. “I want Pakistan to become self-reliant with increased economic activity,” he added.
PM Khan said the biggest investment worth $6 billion in railways was coming to Pakistan through the Main Line-1 project. “For the first time, Pakistan is undergoing huge development in the railway sector in the shape of the Main Line-1 project being implemented in collaboration with China,” he said.
PM says Karachi-Lahore travel time will be reduced to seven hours
He said the railway was an important part of his vision of Naya Pakistan because of its affordable mode of travel for the common man.
Unfortunately, he added, the British infrastructure of rail network of 1861 the country inherited at the time of partition was cut down instead of expanded. He said the government achieved a significant reduction in the cost of the project from $9 billion to $6nn after negotiation with China.
He claimed that with the construction of underpasses, bridges and gates, the ML-1 project would reduce the distance between Karachi and Lahore to mere seven hours.
The prime minister said that under the vision of Naya Pakistan, all citizens regardless of their religion had equal rights to practise their faith.
He said that upgrade of Hassan Abdal railway station, which was at a close distance from Gurdwara Panja Sahib, would facilitate Sikh pilgrims. He mentioned that the railway station in Narowal would also help easy and affordable movement of Sikh people.
He was of the view that Pakistan had potential of becoming a great tourist attraction for Hindus and Buddhists from all over the world. He gave reference to renowned international magazine Conde Nast Traveller that ranked Pakistan as the best tourist destination in the future. He said the government was also focusing on easing up the visa system for tourism development.
PM Khan lauded Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid for his efforts towards upgrade of the rail system in the country.
Earlier, the prime minister took a tour of the upgraded railway station. He also inspected advanced arrangements at the station and visited different bogies of the train.
Speaking at the ceremony, the railways minister said that 90 per cent human resources for the ML-1 project would be taken locally while 10pc would come from China. He said Pakistan Railways was trying its best to solve problems of its employees, particularly relating to their pension.
The railway minister said increasing allowances of train drivers was also under consideration.
Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2020