KARACHI, Sept 22: Revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) still needs approval of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) even though the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has already approved it.

Well-placed sources in the federal government told PPI on Monday that the CDWP had forwarded the KCR revival plan to the Ecnec.

Physical work on the project could only be started after its approval by the Ecnec, they said, adding that the item was yet to be placed on the Ecnec agenda.

According to the sources, there are nine stakeholders of the KCR who are supposed to supervise its revival. Among them, the Sindh chief secretary and the transport secretary represent the Sindh government; the Karachi nazim and his one nominee represent the City District Government Karachi (CDGK), four officials represent the Pakistan Railways and one nominee represents the private sector.

“Pakistan Railways will be owner of the KCR with 60 per cent shares while the Sindh government has 25 per cent shares and the CDGK is a 15 per cent shareholder,” the sources said.

“The question that whether it will be the Sindh government or the CDGK which will bear the operative loss if incurred by the KCR may not arise at all as the control of KCR, after its revival, will be handed over to an internationally reputed operator (a firm that already operates railway systems in different countries,” the sources said, adding that the firm will be bear the responsibility of KCR operation and maintenance.

Referring to the proposed plan for the revival of the project, the sources said that the KCR would charge a fare of 85 paisa per kilometre. A total of 256 train services will be available and some 22 up and down trains will be operated after every hour.

According to a survey conducted by Japanese engineers, more than 700,000 commuters will benefit from these services. A UK-based railway consultant firm has assessed the survey and endorsed it.

Allaying the apprehension of heavy losses to be incurred by the KCR again, the sources pointed out that the operating firms had offered to undertake the whole operation on its own.

“The firm would generate revenues through ticket collection, advertising (i.e. billboards, hoardings, etc at platforms), auction of stalls at all KCR stations and several other means.” The private sector, they said, would be offered contracts for the construction of buildings comprising offices, shops and residential apartments using KCR land along the platforms, as envisaged in the plan. This would be an added source of revenue generation.

Such contracts are to be awarded on a “build, operate and transfer (BOT)” basis.

KCR plan

Eight civic centres will be constructed on KCR land near stations in eight different towns. The rent charged from the tenants would go the KCR operator.

The sources stated that the KCR would construct three flyovers and 19 underpasses along loop.

The KCR revival plan was chalked out basically to reduce the mounting pressure of vehicular traffic on city roads and avoid unmanageable traffic jams feared to occur on most of the city roads in future.

Such a situation is bound to affect directly the economy of the city and the province and indirectly the national economy, experts in the relevant sectors observed while commenting on the merits of the KCR revival.