Pakistan’s Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved the improvement work for the Mainline-1 (ML-1) railway track worth PKR1.137tn ($6.74bn).

In June, Pakistan’s Central Development Working Party (CDWP) gave its approval for the project to upgrade the railway between Karachi and Peshawar at an estimated cost of $7.2bn, following which it referred the project to ECNEC.

Dawn reported that ECNEC also approved three additional development projects worth PKR114bn ($675m).

The project is part of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement.

Around 90% of the expenditure will be given by Chinese banks in the form of loans while the remaining 10% will be provided by the federal government.

According to Reuters, this project is the most expensive project approved by the ECNEC.

For the CPEC corridor, China has planned to allocate $60bn for infrastructure projects in Pakistan.

For the upgrade project, the current 2,655km-long railway tracks will be renovated to allow trains to operate at 165km/h, almost double the current permitted speed.

The capacity of the line will also increase to more than 150 trains on each side daily compared with the current 34.

In a statement, ECNEC stated: “The execution of the project shall be in 3 packages and in order to avoid commitment charges, the loan amount for each package will be separately contracted.”