The Lahore rapid mass transit rail project (LRMTRP) will be the second rapid transit system in Pakistan after the Karachi circular railway. The project involves construction of 97km rail lines staggered in two phases. Phase 1 involves the construction of Green and Orange Lines while phase 2 constitutes construction of Blue and Purple Lines.
The project design is currently underway and is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2010. It is being carried out by MVA Asia Consultancy, a subsidiary of US-based engineering company Systra. The project will enter the execution phase in the first quarter of 2011 and is expected to be completed within 15 years.
The LMRTRP aims to provide safe and environmentally sustainable transport in Lahore. The project also aims to reduce the congestion and increased dependence on the public road transport in Lahore, which has a population of nine million (2007 estimate), growing at a rate of 3.5% every year.
Rapid mass transit project
The LMRTRP was first considered in the early 1990s by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to resolve the transport issues. The feasibility studies carried by JICA were reconsidered and upgraded by the World Bank Fund in 2003. In 2005, the Punjab Provincial Government (PPG) appointed MVA Asia to analyse the feasibility details for its priority corridor (Green Line). The analysis was completed in 2006. In the same year, MVA began feasibility studies for the Orange Line, which were completed by 2008.
In 2007, PPG decided to carry out economic and financial feasibility of Green Line at a higher level. The proposed Green Line is expected to carry 300,000 passengers every year. ADB, which was committed to finance the project from the beginning, reviewed the feasibility studies. It identified various public-private partnership options to develop the first line.
The project lost its course in 2009, when ADB and the steering committee agreed to appoint a transactional adviser. No transactional adviser was appointed, however.
The transactional adviser was expected to market and advertise the project at international level to attract investment on build-operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
The project continues to face the challenge of attracting investors even till date, in addition to the political and social issues.
The Government of Punjab is committed in executing the project despite the fact that it is financially non-viable. It expects that the project will revolutionise the city and gradually improve the local economy.
LMRTRP lines and routes
The North-South Line, also known as the Green Line, will be a 27km-long new rail track. It will begin at Shahdara and run through Ravi Road, Lower Mall, Mall Road, Fatima Jinnah Road, Qartaba Chowk and Ferozepur Road. It will end at Hamza Town. The line is estimated to cost $2.4bn.
Around 11.6km of the line will run underground and 15.4km will be elevated. The line will have 12 underground and ten overhead stations. Construction is scheduled to start in 2011 and expected to be completed by 2013.
The East-West Line or the Orange Line will be 27km long. It will extend from Pakistan Mint to Sabzazar via Shahnur, Awan Town, Hinjarwal, Niaz Beg, Canal View, Wahdat Road, Ali Town, Salahuddin Road, Bund Road, Islam Park, Dera Gujjran Depot, Mahmood Booti, Salamatpura, Samanabad, Gulshan Ravi, Chauburji, Lake Road, Lakshmi Chowk, Railway Station, Sultanpura, UET, Baghbanpura and Shalimar Garden areas.
Around 6.9km of track will be laid underground and the rest will be overhead. There will be six underground and 20 overhead stations. The line is estimated to cost $1.9bn and is expected to be completed by 2015.
The Green and Orange lines will be integrated and linked at Ring Road railway stations, the airport and Sports City.
The Blue Line will be 24km long, beginning at Chauburji and ending at College Road. It will pass through Mozang Chungi, Shadman Chowk, Jail Road, Mian Boulevard Gulberg, Mian Boulevard Garden Town and Faisal Town.
The Purple Line will be 19km long. It will start from Bhaati Chowk and end at Allama Iqbal International Airport. It will pass through Brandreth Road, Railway Station, Allama Iqbal Road, Dharampura and Ghazi Road.
The underground stations will be air-conditioned and have two entrance and exit gates. The elevated stations will be designed like overhead bridges. The stations will be spaced approximately 1km apart.
The station entrances will be integrated with bus stops located on the nearby roads. In addition, tunnels or footbridges will be provided for pedestrians.
The platforms will each be 102m long to accommodate six-car trains. Initially the trains will comprise only three to four cars. Each platform will have screen doors and there will be escalators to improve passenger mobility within the station limits.
The LMRTRP will have tracks of 1,435mm standard gauge. It will require a total of 54 trains (324 cars), which includes 46 regular trains, one operational reserve and seven spare trains for maintenance reserve. The project will start operating with 26 trains in phase 1, and 27 more will be added in phase 2.
Each train will have a capacity of 1,040 passengers.
The LMRTRP requires an investment of $6bn, which has been proposed to be set aside in the upcoming 2010 budget. It will receive 50% of the total cost from ADB and the rest will be financed by the Punjab Transport Department. The Government of Punjab has already invested $1bn on the feasibility studies.