A train that will be run on the Karachi Circular Railway is ready to depart for the port city from Rawalpindi Railway Station on Saturday.—Tanveer Shahzad/ White Star
A train that will be run on the Karachi Circular Railway is ready to depart for the port city from Rawalpindi Railway Station on Saturday.—Tanveer Shahzad/ White Star

LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways (PR) is all set to operate 14km cleared stretch of the around 55km route of the old Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) from Nov 19, hoping to revive operations on the remaining portion in collaboration with the provincial government.

The PR also pledges to start civil work on the new KCR after completion of the necessary preparatory works.

“Under direction of the Supreme Court [restoration of the old KCR and launch of the new KCR projects], we are all set to start running newly refurbished trains at the existing rehabilitated infrastructure [track, signals etc] from November 19,” PR’s chairman Dr Habib Ur Rehman Gilani told a group of journalists at a media briefing on Saturday.

“Since there are some problems related to Covid-19, procurement, labour, etc, we will start running trains [Karachi City-Orangi-Karachi City] at the completed portion [14km] of the entire 55km old KCR route. The operation on the remaining route will also be launched after Nov 19 — probably in the same or next month.”

The railways chairman says the new KCR project will be completed in two and a half years

Dr Gilani said the most important thing was the launch of the civil work on the new KCR that would be completed on the loop line having crossing-free 80km speed (maximum) with fencing on both sides of the track.

“The new KCR would be completed within a period of two and half years. And it will be a gift from us to the people of Karachi from our side. Moreover, it will be built under public-private partnership, as it will have maximum investments from private firms,” the chairman explained.

KCR to be run on electricity

He said the new KCR would have a double track with running of trains on electricity like the Lahore Orange Line.

Earlier, while speaking at a press conference, the Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid said the old KCR operation would consist of 15 passenger coaches.

“Our Islamabad carriage factory has refurbished these coaches on its own. Moreover, the third phase of the KCR would consist of the entire new track and new coaches, locomotives, infrastructure etc,” he said.

Rashid said the finance ministry had approved funds for clearing of billions of rupees dues of the railways pensioners.

To a question, he said the entire documentation for the ML-1 project had been completed.

“All documentation has been completed in this regard. And now we want someone important from China to come here and inaugurate it,” he said, adding that the international tenders for the project would be floated till December 20.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2020