KARACHI, Aug 6: A resettlement plan for the people to be affected by the revival of the Karachi Circular Railway project has been approved by donors and its implementation will begin in the next few months, said the chief of the Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) on Saturday.

The KUTC chief, Ijaz Khilji, said that the Pakistan Railways had agreed to provide approximately 300 acres near Jumma goth (near Cattle Colony and Shah Latif Town) where over 4,650 families currently residing on the KCR route would be relocated.

Each family would be given an 80-square-yard plot and Rs50,000.

He said that the Sindh government had also asked the federal government for the waiver of 8.2 per cent charges on principal and interest amount and hopefully it would formally be approved soon.

Sources said that the federal government charged 15 per cent — 6.8 per cent exchange risk coverage and 8.2 per cent service charges and interest — on foreign loans obtained by the provinces or other stakeholders.

Mr Khilji said that the total cost of the KCR project was roughly over $1.6 billion — equivalent to around Rs128 billion.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is providing over 93.5 per cent ($1.5 billion) while the remaining 6.5 per cent (roughly $101 million) is to be provided by the Sindh and the city governments.

The foreign component of the long-term soft loan, provided at a mark up of 0.2 per cent, is to be returned in 40 years, including initial 10 years as grace period.

He said that in the next few months different JICA teams were scheduled to visit the country to prepare detailed designs, plans of the route and sign agreements just before the start of the Japanese financial year that begins in March so that the funds could be released and the implementation of the project started in the second quarter of 2012. After the work on the project started it would be completed in three years.

He said that under the project 44-kilometre-long dedicated dual track would be laid and it would have 24 stations.

He said that while the system was designed for 100 kilometres per hour speed, electric trains would be operating at an approximate speed of roughly 40 kilometres per hour thus completing the entire circular railway loop in around an hour.

He said that out of its route over 22 kilometres would be elevated and four kilometres would be in tunnels, while the remaining around 16 kilometres would be on road surface.

He said that the railway tracks on the entire route would be fenced and all the level crossings, numbering more than 20, would be removed as the tracks would be passing either at an elevation or tunnels, etc.

He said that the system would require 120 megawatts.

The KUTC chief said that each train would have six cars and could transport roughly 1,400 passengers.

Time gap between two trains would be six minutes and would be operating between 6am and midnight.

Roughly 700,000 passengers would be traveling daily through this system, though it could handle around two million commuters. Fare would be compatible with the road transport fares and at current rates it would begin from approximately Rs15 and Rs0.50 per additional kilometre with the maximum fare for the entire loop would be around Rs25.

He said that the KUTC was incorporated in May 2008 as a public limited company in the Securities and Exchange Commission (not listed) with the railways having 60 per cent, the Sindh government 25 per cent and the city government 15 per cent shares for the implementation of the project.

The railways constructed the Karachi Circular railways and it started its operations in 1964 and it reached its peak performance in 1984 when over 104 trains — 24 on the KCR loop and 80 on the main line — were operated carrying over six million passengers annually.

Owing to a lack of investment in infrastructure, rolling stock, etc, operational efficiency of the KCR was marginalised causing increased running time, lesser number of trains which resulted in reduction of passengers and eventually it was closed down for traffic in 1999.

With the city's population increasing rapidly and in the absence of a public mass transit system, the problems of commuters have increased and the government finally realised hardships faced by the people and decided in 2004 to revive the KCR.

More than half a decade later the project is finally approaching the implementation stage, as the work is to start in the second quarter of the next year.



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