KARACHI, June 6: The Karachi Circular Railway revival project appears to have re-attracted the attention of the newly formed Sindh government, showed a directive of Chief Secretary Ijaz Chaudhry to the Karachi Urban Transport Company and the Karachi Circular Railway seeking a briefing of the project to the government.
The chief secretary, presiding over a meeting on Thursday, asked the stakeholders to increase the pace of work for initiating implementation of the project.
The officials informed the meeting that the KUTC was formed on equity ratio based shareholding of the ministry of Railway, government of Sindh and the Karachi Municipal Corporation while all social environmental and engineering studies as per guidelines of the JICA, World Bank and Asian Development Bank (including 39 preconditions) for negotiations of loan had been completed. A compensation plan for the project-affected people has also been evolved. Besides, the JICA would provide soft-term loan, payable in 40 years, including a 10-year grace period.
The KCR, which started its operation in 1964, was running 24 trains on the KCR loop and 80 on the main line in 1984, carrying over six million passengers annually. This service was suspended in Dec 1999. However, in 2005 its revival plan was initiated to fulfill the growing transportation needs of Karachi, which is among the biggest cities in the world with a steadily growing population but without any mass transit system to cater to the needs of the commuters. It is estimated that the city's population will increase from 18 million in 2009 to 27.5 million in 2020.
The Sindh government on June 18, 2010 informed the Sindh assembly that the executive committee of the National Economic Council had approved the project and soon work would start to be completed it by 2013.
The revival project includes the transformation of the old KCR into a mass transit system. The total length of the railway line is expected to be 50 kilometres and will cost about $1.58 billion.
The dual track route length of the KCR would be 43.12km, covering elevated 22.86km, tunnel 3.93km and ground 16.33km with 24 stations at an average distance of 1.5km each.
The meeting was also told that the train would be available every five minutes and would be catering to 580,000 passengers daily. The fare estimated minimum Rs16 and maximum Rs25, @ Rs0.50 per km. The trains would have additional facilities for senior and special citizens.
The meeting also discussed the land requirement issues for electrical installations in Lyari, Karsaz and on Rashid Minhas Road.
A feasibility study for the revival of the KCR was conducted by the Japan External Trade Organisation in 2006. The UK-based Scott Wilson Railways was appointed to validate the report prepared by JETRO.
The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), which is funding the project, sponsored a final study prepared by the Special Assistance for Project Formulation. US-based consultants Louis Berger validated the final report.
The study prepared by JETRO recommended that the project be executed in two phases. Phase I of the project will include a 28.3km circular section from Karachi Cantt to a proposed station at Gulistan-i-Jauhar. About 9km of this section will be elevated.
Phase II will consist of the 14.8km circular section from Gulistan-i-Jauhar to the proposed station at Liaquatabad. This section will have two tracks along the main line.
Phase II includes a 5.9km airport line from Drigh Road to the airport. This extension will either have an elevated or underground track. Other bridges, culverts and underpasses, wherever necessary, will be constructed for the project.
The modernised KCR will follow a circular path, covering Karachi Cantt, Karachi City, Wazir Mansion, Liaquatabad, Depot Hill, Drigh Road and Departure Yard. The extension towards the airport will start from Drigh Road and follow the path of the Pakistan Railways towards the airport.
The project will include the construction of 19 underpasses and three overhead bridges.
About 23 stations are planned for the project. The stations will feature computerised ticketing and vending machines, automated ticket gates and elevators.
Those present at the meeting included KMC Administrator Hashim Raza Zaidi, Transport Secretary Nazar M. Kalhoro, Implementation Secretary A. Haleem Shaikh, KUTC MD Ayaz Sher Khan, KCR Project Director Aijaz Khilji and Additional Secretary for Implementation Nasimul Ghani Sehto, representatives of the Merubine Corp (JICA allied) K.Yushi Maru and Atiyuki Shibata.