Prime Minister Imran Khan will perform groundbreaking of the Karachi Circular Railway project on Monday (today).

Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati said in a statement that the premier will arrive in Karachi today and the groundbreaking ceremony of the KCR project will be held at the Cantonment Railway Station.

Swati said that the KCR project will be completed in three years at a cost of Rs207 billion. The 29-kilometre track will have 16 stations and 24 level crossings.

Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) will lay the track for the KCR, he said, adding that automatic airconditioned coaches will be run on the track.

Each train will comprise a locomotive and four coaches, the minister said, adding that the train will have the capacity of 814 passengers at a time.

Global tenders will be invited for procurement of the trains, Swati added.

FUNDS APPROVED: Meanwhile, the government on Friday approved Rs20.7 billion for a project to ensure smooth traffic flow along the unconstructed KCR.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) gave its nod to a summary presented by the Planning Commission for the construction of an infrastructure for the elimination of level crossings for the loop section of the KCR, according to a statement issued by the finance ministry.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin chaired the ECNEC meeting that took up the single-point agenda of construction of flyovers along the KCR route of 29 kilometres.

The contract for the execution of the Rs20.7 billion project was given to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) on the instructions of the Supreme Court without following the competitive bidding process.

SINDH CONTRIBUTION: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had reiterated that the provincial government was committed to providing Rs6 billion for development work to make the KCR fully operational.

He said during a meeting in July the Sindh government would fulfil its commitment regarding the project.

He had urged the railways authorities to get the PC-I of the project approved by the federal government.

THE PROJECT: Since 2001, several attempts were made to revive KCR but they have been unsuccessful.

The latest attempt is also heading towards failure as KCR continues to face low demand. The financial deficits may force KCR to once again, begin shutting down. In an attempt to sustain the project, Pakistan Railways has even reduced one train and restricted two operations.

With its launch in 1962, during President Ayub Khan’s tenure, KCR aimed to facilitate the large population of Karachi with quick and cost-effective transport within the city. The initial rail tracks began from Karachi City Station and ended at Drigh Road Station.

Currently, it seems as if Pakistan Railways has once again failed to address the main problem areas. In order for train projects to be successful, elements like feeder bus service, standard gauge and light rail are necessary, but KCR continues to run on a broad gauge and heavy engine. Apart from this, no feeder bus service has been provided for the convenience of travellers.

Also, the operating cost of the project is very high due to the current prices of fuel and electricity, both of which are sky-rocketing all over the world. Needless to say, the total budget allocation of Rs357 billion has not been utilised efficiently.

In November 2020, the Supreme Court mandated the urgent revival of KCR; hence Pakistan Railways restored KCR without efficient and sustainable planning.


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