AN AGREEMENT signed in Islamabad on May 11 should see 40 coaches of a new design delivered to Pakistan Railways from China by the end of 2002. Under the US$100m funding package, a further 135 coaches are to be assembled in Pakistan to the same design with Chinese technical assistance.

The deal was announced jointly by Pakistan’s Minister for Communications & Railways, Lieutenant-General (rtd) Javed Ashraf Qazi, and President of China Technology Corp Chen Wei Gin. China Machinery Import & Export Corp is supplying the coaches, which will raise capacity and comfort on long distance trains.

The purchase forms part of PR’s short-term rehabilitation plan that could also see China supply 69 locomotives under a similar deal now being negotiated. Another agreement would provide US$44m in soft loans to fund the plan, which includes the procurement of 300 wagons, and renewal of 300 km of track and communications cables laid on trunk routes.

CAPTION: During a recent visit to Pakistan, Moroccan Transport Minister Abdelsalam Znined was invited by his Pakistani counterpart Lt-Gen (rtd) Javed Ashraf Qazi to inaugurate a new rake of refurbished inter-city coaches on PR’s Rawalpindi - Lahore service