Can Islamabad catch up with India on bullet trains? Probably not if you request the railway minister in Pakistan. Khawaja Saad Rafique, based on Dawn, told a packed National Assembly that Islamabad did not have enough cash to build one.
The Nawaz Sharif government, which has been pushing for a bullet train to maintain its survey promise, now wants the Chinese to help it make one under the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. The project targets energy infrastructure and road building to end chronic power shortages in Pakistan and to link China's landlocked north-west using the deep water port Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.
"When we asked the Chinese about it (bullet train), they laughed at us. We must consider the 160 mph train under CPEC. We can’t manage a genuine bullet train; there’s no market for it.
Rafique, Dawn said, acknowledged that his government had faced plenty of criticism over not establishing the project. “Even if we do, we don’t have such an enormous range of upper and middle-class passengers who'll purchase tickets,” the Dawn reported.
CPEC is thought to be China's biggest ever foreign investment. A 3,218-km-long route, to be assembled over 15 years, consisting of highways, railroad tracks and pipelines that will link Gwadar Port to Xinjiang. The project costs $75 billion, of which over $45 billion will ensure corridor become operational by 2020. Staying investment will probably be spent on infrastructure development and energy generation.