BE2C2 Report (Islamabad) — The federal and Sindh government have joined hands to lay a 143 kilometer railway track to connect Thar coalfield to the nearest existing railway station.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Power Shahzad Qasim told BE2C2 Report that once this east-to-west piece of rail line is connected to the north-south main railway line, it will create immense trade and land-based shipping opportunities thus enabling economic growth.
The 1900km main line that runs from Peshawar to Karachi itself is being improved albeit enhanced by the Pakistan Railways to cope with trade and economic spur expected with the Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Qasim pointed out that the Rs33 billion (US$240 million) Thar railtrack will have three growth attributes : Thar coal could be shipped anywhere in the country. Secondly, it would open up opportunities to build and operate new power plants along the main railway line. Thirdly, other goods’ shipments can take place, he added.
The Main Line-I (ML-I) project would be finalized soon as negotiations were under way with China, said Railways minister Shaikh Rashid according to APP.
The US$6.2 billion ML-I will increase speed from 65-105 km/h to 120-160km/h, increase freight volumes from 6 to 35 tons per annum by 2025 and increase the railway’s share in freight transport from less than 4% to 20%.
Experts say if coal supplies to new and existing lignite fired plants began from Thar, foreign exchange reserves of around $350 million could be saved annually by cutting coal import.
Meanwhile, the 660MW Thar coal power plant will be operational by this month which will add 660MW of energy to the national grid by June 2019 and another 3000MW of electricity would be added by June 2021.
BE2C2 Report is a data journalism initiative of Irshad Salim Associates, a US-based consulting firm and its Pakistan affiliate BE2C2