ISLAMABAD, July 20: With a nod from the Pakistan Railways, and foreign funds for conducting a feasibility study, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) plans to link its Rapid Transit Bus (RTB) project with a suburban railway system.

For that purpose, the CDA proposes to move the Margalla Railway Station closer to the 9th Avenue which the RTB would serve first.

“That would benefit the people of Gujar Khan and Taxila who come to Islamabad by train for work daily,” a senior officer of the Urban Planning Wing of CDA told Dawn.

While the much-needed but long-neglected RTB service “might be running within months”, he said the CDA was preparing PC-1 for moving the Margalla Railway Station, at a cost of Rs26 million, for the train commuters to access the bus service directly by crossing a pedestrian bridge.

Manila-based Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) and the Asian Development Bank are providing technical support and funding for the feasibility study of the project.

CDIA promotes sustainable and equitable urban development for improved environment and living conditions in Asian countries, with financial and technical assistance from ADB, China, Germany, Sweden and Austria.

“Some 2,000 employees of government and private institutions have to travel from Gujar Khan and Taxila to Islamabad every day,” said a CDA official.

“Instead of opting for extending the road network, we decided to extend the railway track, to bring it some 500 feet closer to 9th Avenue,” explained director general of the Urban Planning Sarwar Sandhu.

“That will help save cost of road widening and expansion for the smooth and easy flow of traffic in the future when the RTB bus service goes into full swing,” added the official.

Asked whether the railways consented with the CDA’s plan, he said: “In a meeting held recently the Railways general manager gave verbal consent to relocate the railway station.

CDA has also written to the management of Pakistan Railways in this regard.

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