KARACHI: In addition to efforts to restore the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) to its original route, the federal government has also decided to add some value and come up with an idea to connect the circular railway line with five under-construction Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines in the metropolis to ease the pressure of traffic on roads.
The plan was shared by Pakistan Railways officials while briefing members of the Senate Standing Committee on Railways, who visited the City station for a briefing on the progress of different projects of the PR.
The committee, led by its chairman Senator Muhammad Qasim, held a detailed meeting with senior PR officials, who briefed the legislators about the progress on the KCR, removal of encroachments on railway land in Karachi and progress to fill the vacant posts in the department.
“There is a plan to connect the KCR with the under-construction BRT lines’ routes in the city, which would further enhance its effectiveness and utility,” said a statement issued after the meeting.
Some 475,000 passengers to commute daily after the revival of circular railway project
“This idea would help release pressure of traffic on roads and bring benefits in multiple ways. Once the service is restored it would cater to some 475,000 passengers daily on its route and after 10 years with increased capacity, it would be serving 1.1 million people each day across Karachi,” the standing committee was told.
Known as “Karachi Breeze” — the name officially given by the Sindh Mass Transit Authority for Karachi’s Bus and Mass Rapid Transit system, some 112.9-kilometres-long roads under BRT projects are in place for Karachi through five dedicated lines.
However, so far only one line, Green Line, is set to start service by the next month.
As the wait for Karachiites for the Green Line service is about to over, which is about to be completed after facing several hiccups over the five years since its groundbreaking in 2016 and incurring almost double the original cost, there’s no visible plan for the four other lines — Orange, Red, Blue and Yellow — as their fate is not known yet.
However, the federal government sounds ambitious for Karachi’s transport system and the claims made by PR officials during the standing committee’s briefing suggest that Islamabad is planning not only to revive the KCR, but also introducing some innovations.
“The total cost of the [KCR] project is Rs207 billion,” said the statement quoting the PR officials briefing the senators. “The KCR will provide the quality travel facilities to people of Karachi. The Senate committee members during the meeting suggest that they will recommend linking KCR to airport so that domestic and foreign travellers could also avail this facility.”
Apart from its chairman, the meeting was attended by Senator Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo, Senator Rana Mahmood Al Hassan, Senator Saifullah Sarwar Khan Niazi, Senator Dost Mohammad Khan and senior officials of PR, including CEO Nisar Ahmed Memon, director general-property & land Amjad Iqbal, Irfanul Haq, divisional superintendent-Karachi Hanif Gul, DS-Sukkur Shoaib Adil, Amir Muhammad Dawood Puta and others.
The PR officials briefed the standing committee on the issue of encroachments on railway land in Sindh, steps taken to retrieve the land, KCR and regularisation of 10 sub-engineers in Balochistan.
During the briefing, it was further informed that 152.8 acres of railway land in Karachi and Sukkur divisions was retrieved during the past three years.
The standing committee directed the officials to take steps to ensure prevention of encroachments on railways land in future.
Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2021