Karachi Circular Railway will start in 2017

The Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project is expected to kick off around June-July in 2013 and while it is hoped that the task would be completed by May-June 2017, such mega projects take time as several factors need thorough study and investigation, stated Managing Director Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) Aijaz Hussain Khilji.

He said the rehabilitation of the affected people was his department’s utmost priority, adding that all civic facilities would be provided so that their standard of life could be raised. He also assured that there were no big hurdles in the path of the Karachi Circular Railway project.

Khilji said that a topographic survey was also performed on all concerned locations, while surveys through satellite were also being performed so that the dynamics of the areas could be studied. He further said that all concerned parties, including the government of Sindh, Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) and other authorities were cooperating immensely.

Sources in the KUTC said that the environment factor- among several other issues – was hindering the progress of the study. They said that teams comprising experts such as geologists from Japan were engaged in studying the concerned locations at the moment while the finding would be beneficial for the project.

Answering a question on heavy encroachments on locations that lie in the path of the project, the MD of KUTC said the department was in direct contact with the affected people, while all possible measures were being taken to rehabilitate them.

Although the organization received a largely welcoming response from the people, there were some issues hither and thither, which for such a massive project, was a normal occurrence. They said that interaction with people was an important task so that their issues could be observed firsthand by the department.

KUTC said that sustainable development was its aim so that the negative implications in the project could be reduced. Talking about the technical aspects, sources said that according to their studies, 22 million trips were taking place in Karachi every single day and this was growing rapidly.

They said that approximately 0.7 million people could travel after the completion of the project; however, the project has been designed as such that if the demand increases than the number of passengers traveling could be doubled. Each train would carry roughly 1,400 passengers. They said that the KCR project has been designed to meet the growing needs of the metropolis.

Sources underlined that the total cost of the project would be $1.558billion, while 93.5% funding would be provided by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and remainder would be arranged by the department. They said that the agency would provide funding on only 0.2% mark-up which was payable in 40 years.

They said that under the project 44-kilometre-long dedicated dual track would be laid and it would have 24 stations. They said that while the system was designed for 100 kilometers per hour speed, electric trains would be operating at an approximate speed of roughly 40 Km/h thus completing the entire circular railway loop in around an hour.

They said that out of its route, over 22 kilometers would be elevated and four kilometers would be in tunnels, while the remaining 16 kilometers would be on road surface. Talking about power generation, they said that the entire system would require 120 Megawatts of electricity while an agreement was reached with Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) to make KCR a strategic consumer of the company. They said that a standby system would also be built for any emergency situation.

Chairman Railway Workers Union Manzoor Ahmed Razi said that all hurdles regarding the project must be eliminated as soon as possible so that the city of Karachi can enter into the much awaited mass transit system. He questioned that if Delhi could have a mass transit system, why couldn’t Karachi?

Talking about the previous circular railway, he said that back in the 60s and 70s, it was the preferred means of commuting as it was quick, comfortable and affordable at the same time. Razi said that the corruption deprived the poor of a valuable means of transportation and now only a handful of trains operate locally.

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