Partial Test Run of Lahore’s Elevated Orange Line Metro Train Conducted

The OLMT is Pakistan’s first mass rapid transit train project, costing over Rs6bn per kilometer ((roughly US$60m/km) all inclusive– a whopping figure critics say.

May 16, 2018 (BE2C2) — Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday witnessed the first test-run of Lahore’s much-awaited Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT), and vowed to introduce such facilities in other parts of the country, as well as in Karachi and Peshawar.

“The OLMT is not just a development project. Rather, it is the manifestation of democratic resolve to serve the common man,” Shahbaz said, according to the Punjab government’s tweet.

The CM Punjab, while addressing a gathering after the trial run, said all work on the project would be completed in three months.

So far, 88 per cent construction work of the elevated platform and over 70pc electrical and mechanical work on the project has been completed. More trial runs of different sections will follow thereafter with overall testing and commissioning of the entire project.

All the bogies of the train have been imported from China. Each bogie is 20 meters long. Although there are 60 seats per bogie, each can accommodate up to 200 people. Separate seats have been allocated for women, the elderly and physically-challenged individuals.

The Govt of Punjab tweet said, “Orange Line Metro Train project was delayed for 22 months due to the stay order. Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan gave green signal to Orange Line Metro Train after 22 months to resume the work and first successful test run was done within 2 months.”

“Teachers, students, common citizens, laborers, and people from all walks of life will benefit from Orange Line Metro Train,” Shahbaz said while addressing the media.

“The OLMT project will transform people’s lives. The project will become the basis of an interaction between different classes of society by creating a sense of equality and ownership in social terms,” he asserted.

Initially, the project will facilitate 0.25 million people daily, whereas by 2025, it is expected to facilitate 0.5m people daily.

The metro train will travel a distance of some 11 kilometers. Overall, 26 stations have been built on a 27.12-kilometre-long track.

Under the project 27 trains — with five bogies each — will travel across the track in 45 minutes, a journey which previously took 2.5 hours, according to the Punjab Government.

The OLMT is Pakistan’s first mass rapid transit train project, costing over Rs6bn per kilometer ((roughly US$60m/km) all inclusive– a whopping figure critics say.

Basically, the project was initiated with a signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Punjab government and China in May 2014.

Financing was secured in December 2015 when China’s Exim Bank agreed to provide a soft loan of Rs165 billion for the project payable over a period of 20 to 25 years. Originally the completion of this project required 27 months but now it is expected to be completed by October 2019.

Dr Noman Ahmed, Professor and Chairman, Department of Architecture & Planning, NED University of Engineering, Karachi, has some reservations about the project. He says such mega projects consume large-scale subsidies for longer periods. Though, initially, they earn political mileage for the party in power, in the long run it is hard for the relevant departments to sustain the operations.

His point is that whereas the subsidy is there during the tenure of the political party that launches such projects, the change in the political setup may lead to the end of it. The constant battle between a public policy initiative and the cost/benefit tradeoff is always an issue, an analyst said.

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