LAHORE: As Rs1.9 billion have been estimated for annual electricity billing for the operation of Lahore Orange Line Metro Train, the Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMTA) has reportedly received more than Rs80 million bill for December last.
The amount of monthly bills is expected to increase gradually with rise in temperature in coming months. The authorities concerned have started implementing a plan to save electricity, Dawn has learnt.
“We have worked out Rs1.9bn annual billing for the entire operation (over Rs150m per month on average). But since start of the train operation from Oct 25 last year, the monthly bill ranged between Rs80m and Rs100m. It will increase with rise in temperature because of air-conditioners,” an official source told Dawn.
The trains alone are running on 750 volt (direct current --DC) that is supplied to them through a central iron/steel line, called third rail. The third rail runs parallel to both tracks (Dera Gujran to Ali Town and vice versa. Besides the trains, the other allied systems run on 500 volt DC. Thus the entire system is being run on 750 volt DC with uninterrupted supply of total 74MW through two grid stations - one near UET (GT Road) and another near Shahnoor Stop (Multan Road).
Receives Rs80m December bill; evolves power saving plan
Though Pakistan Railways used the electric traction system between the Lahore-Khanewal section for several decades by supplying electricity to the locomotives through the overhead copper cable, it gradually wound up the project following frequent cable thefts.
However, the system being introduced to run the Orange Line is the latest one in which power is supplied through central line which is also called the third rail.
The official says the Lahore Electricity Supply Company (Lesco) is charging bills/units to Orange Line under one of the C categories (single point supply for the purchase of electricity in bulk by distribution licencee and mix load consumers not falling in any other consumer class).
“Under this category, the Orange Line is charged Rs14 and Rs21 per unit in normal and peak hours respectively. Thus the average per unit cost is Rs18 (use of power in winter, summer, autumn, spring etc),” he adds.
He says the government is also making efforts to bring down cost of electricity by getting tariff for Orange Line changed through discussions with the Lesco management.
To a question, he says, the PMTA has started implementing the electricity [cost] saving plan by getting escalators used by the elderly passengers alone. The officials are trying to make use of escalators by the elderly passengers after “we learnt that kids residing in the localities situated nearby the Orange Line stations started using them [for fun]. So the officials have switched off the escalators and will switch on when elderly passengers or patients use them,” he says.
The official says under the saving plan, ‘unnecessary’ use of ACs and lights will be controlled by assigning special tasks to the officials concerned. “The authority will try to reduce annual cost to Rs1.5bn or so.”
According to a Lesco official, the reading is taken on 5th of every month after which the Iqbal Town and Baghbanpura divisions issue bills.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2021