Orange Line Metro Train, Pakistan’s first urban mass transit rail project that is nearing completion, is expected to begin services by the end of the year. The $1.6 billion (Dh5.88 billion) project involves 27km of rail line covering the most congested areas in Lahore — Pakistan’s second-largest city with a population of more than 11 million. The Metro is the brainchild of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who lays special emphasis on developing roads and transport infrastructure. He is responsible for building the metro-bus mass transit system in Lahore and Rawalpindi that has provided great relief to commuters.
The rail project will complement the existing metro-bus system and bring more relief to the residents of the city, saving them time on commutes. Trains that cover 26 stations at 80km per hour will reduce travel time from two-and-a-half hours to 45 minutes. That will increase productivity and spur economic growth as people will spend less time on roads as they become more mobile.
The project will be a blessing to Lahore, choked by traffic congestion and pollution. The environment-friendly driverless electric Metro system will not only make travelling easy, but also reduce pollution. More than 250,000 commuters are expected to use the Metro every day and the capacity is expected to increase to 500,000 passengers per day by 2021.
With increasing population and rapid urbanisation in the provincial capitals, there is an urgent need to introduce mass transit systems in all major cities of Pakistan, especially in Karachi. Such projects should, however, be initiated after extensive studies, so that the needs of the city are taken into consideration. These projects should not be used as a political tool.