Pakistan railways coach train
The interior of one of the 40 modern passenger coaches that Pakistan Railways is expected to receive from China in December 2022. Image Credit: Pakistan Railways

Islamabad: Pakistan Railways has received the first batch of about 46 of the total 230 high-speed modern coaches from China to help revamp the railway operations in the country, officials said.

The new coaches will have the capacity to run at a speed of 160 kilometres per hour and would significantly improve train service as the current maximum speed limit of Pakistani trains is about 120 kilometres per hour. The modern coaches will offer an improved train travel experience in the country of 220 million people, many of whom rely on trains for long journeys.

“We have received 46 new coaches comprising economy, AC standard and AC parlour classes for passengers and luggage and brake vans” via ship at the Karachi Port, railway additional general manager (mechanical) Shahid Aziz told local media. The railways would carry out a test run of the new coaches on the Main Line-1 (ML-1) starting from Karachi to Peshawar via Rohri, Sukkar, Bahawalpur, Khanewal, Lahore, and Rawalpindi before beginning the commercial travel.

After receiving 46 completely built units (CBUs) manufactured in China, Pakistan Railways would soon begin manufacturing 184 similar coaches at its carriage factory in Islamabad with the assistance of Chinese engineers under the technology transfer agreement.

Pakistan Railways train
Pakistan Railways has received the first batch of modern coaches from China. Image Credit: Pakistan Railways

230 modern, high-speed passenger coaches

Pakistan Railways signed a contract with major Chinese high-speed train manufacturer CRRC Tangshan Co Ltd in August 2021 for 230 modern, high-speed passenger coaches. The passenger trains include 80 economy coaches and 80 air-conditioned standard trains, 30 lounge-type trains and others.

The $140 million contract includes two phases. The first 46 cars will be produced and transported from China while the remaining 184 cars will be manufactured in Pakistan by local engineers and technical staff under the supervision of Chinese experts to help save time and cost.

The manufacturing of 184 coaches in Pakistan will be under the technology transfer project as the Chinese firm will provide spare parts, raw materials and expertise for the coaches planned to be manufactured at Pakistan Railways Carriage Factory in Islamabad.

Pakistan has signed another similar contract with a Chinese firm to manufacture 800 freight wagons and 20 brake wagons. After receiving 200 modern freight wagons from China, the country would begin manufacturing 620 modern wagons at its Mughalpura workshop and the carriage factory in Risalpur.

With the new coaches and technology transfer, Pakistan Railways aims to improve its system and the condition of the railway tracks that along with other issues such as poor maintenance, and official negligence led to some of the most fatal railway accidents in the world.