KARACHI: The Sukkur to Ghotki segment of the railway track where a train accident took place on Monday morning was old and had not been repaired for the past several years to save money, Pakistan Railways Chairman Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani said on Monday after over 38 people died in the deadly crash near Ghotki.

The repair of the track was started four weeks ago but delayed as it was the main and operational track due to which the pace of work was slow, he added.

Chairman Gilani said that the Pakistan government had signed an agreement with the Chinese government in August last to lay a new track from Peshawar to Karachi.

Under the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project agreement Chinese engineers were to lay the track according to international standards, he continued.

He said the track was dangerous and he had asked the federal government to replace it, but because of the contract with the Chinese government, it could not be done.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that China had planned early launch of the Main Line-1 – the biggest ever infrastructure project of the country’s history – that will cost $6.8 billion.

According to the media reports, Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong called on Minister for Railways Azam Swati and discussed with him the progress made on the project. The ambassador said that the project would take the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to new heights and would showcase the depth of the deep-rooted bond between the two countries.

The project will enable railways to run trains at a speed of around 120 kilometers per hour. The project will be completed in three phases and reduce Peshawar to Karachi travel time significantly.

Once completed, the project would largely help the revival of freight trains which would later also help use the freight trains for transportation of goods from Xinjiang to Gwadar Port.

The author is a senior business reporter with bylines in leading newspapers and magazines across Pakistan.

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