The proposed China-Pakistan railway, one of the largest transport projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is expected to cost 400 billion yuan ($57.7 billion), according to a news report.

The planned project, connecting Pakistan’s Gwadar port to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, was assessed by scientists from the state-owned China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group Co, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The project was BRI’s “most expensive transport infrastructure,” the institute said in a study.

“Despite the cost, the project has the potential to reshape trade and geopolitics across the Eurasian continent and should be supported,” said the study, published by the Chinese-language journal Railway Transport and Economy last month.

The 3,000-km railway will link China’s western regions with the Arabian Sea, bypassing the Strait of Malacca and reducing dependence on the South China Sea.

Connections with other transport networks, including Iran and Turkey, will provide a more direct route to Europe for Chinese goods.

The study suggested that a build-and-transfer model will be the best investment and financing strategy for the project.

In October 2022, Zawya Projects had reported that Pakistan is focussing on completing the delayed projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the BRI.

(Writing by P Deol; Editing by Anoop Menon)