The Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) has now become a dream project that keeps on eluding the government and people both. It is now almost a decade that successive federal and provincial governments are never tired of repeating their commitments to bring the KCR back on the track. For the last one year, we have also been witnessing a serious concern on the part of the Supreme Court to help revive the KCR and it has a issued a series of orders for the federal and provincial governments, the local administration and the Pakistan Railways to do all that is needed to bring this defunct project back to life.
Only last week, the Supreme Court gave one month’s time to all the relevant agencies at federal, provincial and local levels, to take immediate measures to revive the KCR. Sounding, however, unrealistic, the latest order was in continuation of the apex court’s earlier order it had given in November 2018 to clear all encroachments along the 43-kilometre-long KCR track.
The KCR was commissioned in 1964 and remained in operation till 1999. It was part of a rail transport system which included a local train service between City and Landhi railway stations and a circular loop track connecting the localities in the present South, East, West and Central districts. When at its peak, it ran 104 daily trains — 80 on the main track and 24 on the loop line facilitating thousands of commuters on a daily basis.
A number of studies have been carried on the removal of encroachments along the KCR track, most important and most practical of them being one prepared by the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), but some wasted interests inside and outside the government continue to outmaneuvre all efforts to revive the KCR.
Now when Karachi’s road transport is a nightmare for commuters, it is really imperative to remove all the hurdles to revive the KCR by implementing the apex court’s orders without any further delay.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2019.