MoU signed for tram service in Lahore

Updated October 18, 2019

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A European firm has shown interest in launching a tram service in the metropolitan on a 25-30km stretch of the Canal Road (from Thokar to Jallo) in the first phase.  — AFP/File
A European firm has shown interest in launching a tram service in the metropolitan on a 25-30km stretch of the Canal Road (from Thokar to Jallo) in the first phase. — AFP/File

LAHORE: A European firm has shown interest in launching a tram service in the metropolitan on a 25-30km stretch of the Canal Road (from Thokar to Jallo) in the first phase.

The project will be launched under public-private partnership (PPP) in a joint venture (JV) of two companies – one European and the other Chinese – and Punjab transport department.

The Lahore Transport Company (LTC) will have a regulatory role on behalf of transport department, according to a senior official.

“After studying various routes of buses being operated under the LTC regulations in the city, the JV declared the Canal Road fit for launching the tram service in the first phase. However, it may also launch the service on other routes as well, including Jail Road, Mall Road and other major arteries of the city. The project will be launched under PPP mode and the tram service will run on a dedicated track to be laid along Canal Road. And it will run easily in the traffic,” Punjab transport secretary Asad Gilani told Dawn on Thursday.

The tram service, which had been running in 1960s in Karachi, is considered to be a safe mode of transport in the metropolitan cities. The service is also running successfully in several countries of Europe and other continents. But the idea to launch it in Lahore was floated after Punjab transport minister Jahanzeb Khan Khichi visited Czech Republic a couple of months ago and held meetings with some transport firms specialising in manufacturing and launching trams in various countries through joint ventures with other firms. After detailed discussions, a JV comprising Czech Republic’s Inekon Group and China’s CRSC had visited Lahore and surveyed various routes around a month ago.

“During their visit, we briefed them [JV representatives] about the green line (metro bus service), orange line and the planned purple and blue lines. However, after surveying routes of metro bus and orange line, the JV’s officials were of the view that the tram service can’t be launched on these routes since it doesn’t have adequate capacity to transport such a large number of passengers. Later, the officials visited the LTC-operated buses’ routes and finally approved Canal Road for the service’s first phase,” Mr Gilani said.

He said the new facility would comprise 30 sets of trams — each having two coaches. The service would have various stops keeping in view the requirement of passengers, he added. “Before launching the service, the JV will conduct feasibility survey of the project. And after completion of the feasibility, the service would be launched,” the secretary said.

Meanwhile, the transport department and the JV signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on tram service. “This avant-garde project will be jointly implemented by a consortium of Czech and Chinese firms in collaboration with the LTC and transport department,” transport minister Jahanzeb Khan Khichi said at the MoU signing ceremony.

According to the MoU, the JV will work jointly with the LTC in order to improve public transport sector in Lahore. “With introduction of the tram service in Lahore, the traffic burden on the Canal Road will also reduce,” the minister claimed. He said in order to provide the public with quality environment-friendly transport facilities, the LTC and his department would also build their capacity so that such innovative transport projects could be successfully launched.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2019