LAHORE: The Pakistan Railway (PR) has prepared a Rs14 billion PC-1 to rehabilitate the Lahore-Chak Amru (via Narowal and Kartarpur) rail section. The project will be submitted to the federal government for allocation of funds under the Public Sector Development Programme for the next fiscal year.

“We, in a meeting on May 21 (Saturday) at Narowal, have been informed by a representative of the PR that PC-1 worth Rs14 billion has been prepared for allocation of funds under the upcoming PSDP-2022-23,” Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Chairman Dr Habib Ur Rehman Gilani told Dawn on Sunday.

“The PR would execute replace various critical stretches of the existing track with the new one, besides maintenance of the existing signalling/relay-interlocking system, coaches, engines, etc. This rail route can be turned into international significance since Sikh pilgrims can easily and safely reach Kartarpur and other temples within the shortest possible time. But the non-operation of trains (between Narowal-Chak Amru via Kartarpur) due to the dilapidated conditions of the track has made the route partially abundant. Therefore, we ask the PR to rehabilitate it on a top priority basis.”

At present, the train operation from Lahore to Narowal (over 70km) is working. However, due to the poor condition of the track, the train speed is limited to 60km per hour. The track from Narowal to Kartarpur onward up to the Chak Amru - the last station in Pakistan territory - is unfit for the train operation. The distance between Narowal to Kartarpur and Chak Amru is approximately 20km and 35km respectively. The total length of the track from Lahore to Chak Amru via Narowal and Kartarpur is over 125km.

Mr Gilani said he also asked the PR representatives to restore the rail track from Narowal to Kartarpur and start running at least two trains daily before the approval of the project and allocation of funds under PSDP under the federal budget 2022-23 so as to provide the travel-by-train facility to the people, especially Sikh pilgrims visiting Kartarpur.

“They (the PR official) agreed to do something on this proposal,” Mr Gilani added.

“If the entire route is rehabilitated fully, the train speed limit would be 120km per hour and the total travel time between Lahore and Kartarpur would not be more than one hour.”

He said the Gujranwala Electric Power Company also pledged to lay a new power transmission line from Narowal to Kartarpur for providing a dedicated and load shedding-free electricity supply to Kartartpur.

The Narowal DC and ETPB officials, he said, also briefed the meeting about agricultural activities at Kartarpur. “We also visited the Kartarpur and checked the currency changers, free-food (Lunger) arrangements and other activities there. We, at the zero line, also learnt about the arrival of many pilgrims daily to the Kartarpur corridor from Patalia, Gurdaspur, Amritsar (India), Canada, America and the UK. Similarly, we also met many pilgrims from various parts of Pakistan,” he said, expecting that the area can generate huge revenue if it is equipped with more facilities, especially the restoration of the track for train operation.

PR Additional General Manager Amir Baloch said the PC-1 for the project would be sent to the government for approval and allocation of funds under the PSDP 2022-23.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2022

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