Islamabad: Pakistan’s first metro train has arrived from China and is all set to be launched in December 2017.
The first set of coaches and engine of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) service have been unveiled in Lahore by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
The launch ceremony for the train was attended by various Pakistani officials, Chinese engineers and officials as well as thousands of citizens on Sunday.
“The Orange Line is not just a public transport project but a means of extending respect to citizens and delivering world-class transport facility,” Shahbaz said.
Pakistan's first mass transit system
It is the first project of its kind in the history of Pakistan, which intends to introduce mass rapid transit system and will be a fully automated and driverless system.
The trains are set to be launched on December 25.
Speaking on the occasion, Shahbaz Sharif said that Orange Line Project will provide modern, safe, swift and affordable transport facilities to the Pakistani commuters. The $1.6 billion (Dh5.8 billion) OLMT project is expected to transport half a million people daily.
The 27 trains will run at 80 kilometres per hour and cover a distance of 27 kilometres, covering 26 stations and reducing travel time from two-and-a-half hours to 45 minutes.
Each train has a capacity to carry 1,000 passengers.
Together all the Orange Line trains would facilitate the transport for up to 250,000 passengers daily which will be raised to 500,000 in coming years.
The metro train is a gift for the people of Pakistan from China, Shahbaz said.
The project comes through an easy 20-year instalment plan with a grace period of seven years, which means Pakistan would not have to pay anything for the first seven years, he said.
The government says the metro train will run on electricity. The train will consume 74MW electricity that will be supplied by the Lahore Electricity Supply Company (Lesco), according to Environment Impact Assessment report.
One of the features of the train is its energy-saving air-conditioning system and structure to handle unstable voltage in Lahore, according to the metro official.
The mega project which consists of 27 trains — each with five carriages — was launched in May 2014. The trains are being produced for the project by the CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co., Ltd. The project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The train was set to be up and running by mid-2017 but got embroiled in a legal battle in the Lahore High Court over three different cases of environment, heritage and transparency. Environmentalists and heritage lovers staged protests and filed cases as they considered metro train a threat to Lahore’s cherished culture and environment.
However, Shahbaz Sharif is determined that “Despite conspiracies against development, the journey of progress and prosperity will continue.”
Khawaja Ahmed Hassan, chairman of Orange Line Metro Train Steering Committee, told media that around 75 per cent of the construction work has been completed and rest would be finished by the year-end.