LAHORE: Once completed, the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project will be the only mass-transit project in the world that will have higher rolling stock and allied infrastructure cost than civil structure, The Express Tribune learnt on Saturday.
The completion date of the project is not yet certain. After the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) tenure in Punjab, engineers working on the project have started smelling a rat in the country’s first metro train project deal. A senior official working on the project indicated that in all such mega projects the cost of the civil structure is always around two-thirds of the project cost but the OLMT is the unique project as its rolling stock, track, electrical and mechanical works costs are almost double than civil structure.
He pointed out that the government has procured 27 five-car trains (total 135 coaches), besides track laying and electrical and mechanical works by Chinese engineers, for whopping $1,000 million, which is over 60% of total project cost. He highlighted that the average price of a similar specification train coach is around $1.6-1.7 million in the international market and total invoice for 135 coaches should not exceed $220-230 million. “If the government is paying remaining $700 million for only of laying tracks, electrical, mechanical and signaling works than it is really questionable as the project is being constructed through a loan which will be paid through taxpayers’ money.”
According to International Railway Journal, Barcelona Metropolitan Transport (TMB) has recently awarded two contracts for 12 five-car trains worth €92 million ($107 million) to two European companies, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) and Alstom, to increase capacity on its metro by 20%. Delivery is scheduled to start in the second half of 2019. For the OLMT project, Pakistan has acquired train coaches from China which is considered the least expensive manufacturer in the world.
Breakdown of metro capital costs for five metro extensions in Madrid, Caracas, Mexico City and Santiago shows that civil works cost of these metro projects (for tunnel only as cost of elevated is less) ranges between 24% and 55%; equipment 14% and 24%; rolling stock 15% and 36%; design and supervision 3% 10%; track 3% and 6%; power 2% and 9%; signaling and communication 3% and 7%; and station equipment, escalators, lifts, passenger toll equipment less than 1%.
Data compiled by the European consultancy, BB&J Consult, shows that accumulative cost of rolling stocks, track, signaling, communication, electrical and mechanical works remain near one-third of the project cost in countries where overhead expenditures and labour wages are much higher than Pakistan.
The 27-kilometer metro train project is estimated to cost over $1.65 billion, which is funded through a loan by China’s Exim Banks. Project documents highlight around $1 billion will be directly transferred to the Chinese contractors, CR-NORINCO, for procurement of the rolling stock while the remaining amount will be transferred to Pakistan for construction of track and provision of allied infrastructure.
The project is part of the city metro network and when completed, it will connect Raiwind, Multan Road, Macleod Road, Lahore Junction Railway Station and the Grand Trunk Road. It will be the first line of the Lahore Metro, which is country’s first mass rapid transit train system.