As part of its investment for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) program, China will provide $5.5 billion in a concessionary loan for extending Pakistan’s main railway line that connects northern Pakistan to southern Pakistan.

The Minister for Planning, Development, and Reform – Ahsan Iqbal has said that China has decided to provide $5.5 billion of the entire cost of roughly $8 billion for the ML-I (Peshawar-Karachi) railway link. China will charge an interest rate of less than 2%, the Tribune reported.

After the addition of this new funding, the total amount of investment being offered by China for the CPEC projects has now become $50 billion.

Earlier, China had decided to offer $3.7 billion out of the $46-billion CPEC programme for the ML-I project and now it has agreed to increase its funding to $5.5 billion.

Moreover, the remaining cost of the project would be provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Peshawar- Lahore section of the ML-I will be made with the ADB’s loan.

If everything went as planned, this project is expected to be completed in five to six years and after that, the speed of the trains would double to 180 kilometers per hour. About 75% of the country’s railway traffic passes through the Peshawar-Karachi railway line.

At present, the task is to upgrade and extend this rail link. The new railway project from Jacobabad to Gwadar will start in the medium term.

In 2030 and thereafter, a new rail link from Kashgar to Havelian, special passenger track between Karachi and Peshawar, and the extending and up-gradation of existing track between Quetta and Taftan, Peshawar and Landikotal have been decided.

Chinese engineers are also creating the pattern of the railway line which will connect Karachi, Peshawar, and Havelian. The engineers will collaborate with the team of Project Implantation Unit (PIU) to complete the railway track design by December 2016.