Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line (Urdu:کراچی–پشاور مرکزی ریل راستہ) (also referred to as Main Line 1 or ML-1) is one of four main railway lines in Pakistan, operated and maintained by Pakistan Railways. The line begins from Karachi City station or Kiamari station and ends at Peshawar Cantonment Station. The total length of this railway line is 1,687 kilometers (1,048 mi). There are 184 railway stations from Kiamari to Peshawar Cantonment on this line. The line serves as the main passenger and freight line of the country. 75% of the country's cargo and passenger traffic uses the line. The line is currently undergoing a six-year ₨886.68 billion (US$5.4 billion) upgrade and renovation as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, with average rail speeds expected be doubled to 160 kilometers per hour upon completion.
The present-day Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line was built as a patchwork of different railways during the 19th century. The present day line consists of the following historic sections built between 1861 and 1900:
The Scinde Railway was constructed in 1861 as a 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge railway line between Karachi and Kotri. Work on the line had commenced in April 1858 and was the first railway line for public use in the region. Following the completion of the line, the Indus Steam Flotilla began docking in Kotri (instead of Karachi) from Multan. The Punjab Railway was constructed and inaugurated in late 1861 as a 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge railway line between Multan and Lahore, and later extended to Amritsar. Thus the travel time between Sindh and Punjab was greatly reduced together with the Scinde Railway, Indus Steam Flotilla and Punjab Railways; what normally took 40 days to travel between Karachi and Lahore now took 48 hours to transport passengers and cargo.
In 1870, the Scinde, Punjab & Delhi Railway was formed from the incorporation of the Scinde Railway, Indus Steam Flotilla, Punjab Railway and Delhi Railway companies in order to increase efficiency of passenger and cargo transport between Sindh and Punjab. However, the rail gap between Kotri and Multan was considered a hassle as the Indus River and Sutlej River were major obstacles to cross at the time. In 1871, the Indus Valley State Railway was inaugurated and construction began on extending the railway line from Multan south towards Bahawalpur (crossing the Sutlej River) and on wards to Rohri. In 1876, the Punjab Northern State Railway was constructed between Lahore and Peshawar and in 1883 the Attock Bridge over the Indus River was opened. In 1878, the Empress Bridge over the Sutlej River was opened and in 1879 the Indus Valley State Railway reached Rohri. From Rohri, a steam ferry would transport eight rail carriages at a time across the Indus between Rohri and Sukkur. This was found to be cumbersome and time-consuming. In 1889, the Lansdowne Bridge between Rohri and Sukkar was opened and in 1893, work on the Kotri Bridge commenced. It was only in 1900 that the section between Rohri and Kotri was completed. In 1885, all the companies were merged to form the North Western State Railway.
New rail track 1,872 kilometer in length will be laid out under the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project, the project will generate about 150,000 job opportunities, said Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed. The Project will result in doubling of entire track from Karachi to Peshawar. Computer based signaling and control system will be installed. Grade separation to ensure safety of train operations will be provided. The Estimated Cost of the project is US $ 6808 Million.