190501 train tracks
The Karachi Circular Railway is being partially revived by the Pakistan Railways this month after 21 years. Photo for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Pixabay

Karachi: Having been discontinued for 21 years, the Karachi Circular Railway - a commuter rail service for Karachiites - is being partially revived by the Pakistan Railways from November 16, 2020.

The federal and provincial governments have been planning since long to revive the KCR but heavy encroachments on its existing infrastructure, lack of will on the part of the authorities, shortage of fiscal resources, and similar other administrative issues, kept the commuter rail service discontinued in the city since 1999. During this period, commuters in Karachi faced serious hardships owing to absence of any mass transit system as the issue frequently attracted the attention of the country’s apex judiciary.

The KCR is being partially revived on a 60 kilometre-track from the Pipri Railway Station in suburbs of Karachi to Orangi Town. The intending passengers will be charged Rs 50 for this journey. Four trains have been reserved by the Pakistan Railways for the partial revival of the KCR as the trains will operate daily after an interval of three hours. These trains will operate from both the Pipri and Orangi Town stations at 7am, 10am, 1pm, and 4pm daily.

Complete revival

Pakistan Railways has been trying to follow the directives of Supreme Court to revive the KCR. The Pakistan Railways while acting in collaboration with the Sindh government and Karachi city’s administration has also been able to retrieve a 12-kilometre portion of the KCR from Karachi City Station to Manghopir.

The Sindh government wants complete revival of the KCR under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project as decided in the meeting of Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of the CPEC on December 29, 2016. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah recently told a meeting with Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar and other officials concerned that on November 22, 2017 the JCC confirmed that the KCR project was technically qualified and mature for implementation. The CM said that since November, 2019, there had been no progress to revive the KCR under the CPEC regime.

That meeting also decide to start a local train service in the city using the KCR track in two months’ time from City Station to SITE having 12 km distance.