OLMT project unlikely to meet Jan 2020 deadline

Published: November 13, 2019
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PHOTO: FILE

PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: The operations and maintenance contract of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project has been awarded, The Express Tribune learnt on Tuesday.

An official of the Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA) disclosed that the body has successfully completed the tendering process of the contract.

After awarding the contract, the authority will invite Chinese contractors to share their timeline since it requires rigorous testing of various systems.

However, the authority will try to push Chinese contractors to start commercial operations at the earliest, he said.

Earlier, the Punjab government announced that OLMT’s commercial operations will commence from January 2020.

However, Chinese engineers failed to initiate full scale testing for various technical reasons as contractors require three or more weeks to complete civil works, the official highlighted.

Responding to a question, he stated that the project requires a couple of months for testing and commissioning.

“Therefore, it is too early to announce when the project will commence commercial operations.”

He said it would be difficult to initiate the metro train for the general public by 2020. A contractor working on the OLMT project highlighted that the pace of development work has been sluggish for the past couple of weeks.

It seems that even the project consultants, NESPAK and the Lahore Development Authority, have also lost interest in the project since new chief engineers have assumed charge. No meeting has been called since to review the progress of the project, he stated.

Previously, former Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese engineers were running metro trains for testing purposes using diesel locomotives.

While the metro train project is designed to run on high-voltage electricity, the government has also imported two diesel locomotives in case of an emergency.

All 13 stations of OLMT Package-I (from Dera Gujjran to Anarkali) have been completed while 11 stations of OLMT Package-II will be completed this month. Once this is done, the entire length of the track will be tested using electricity.

In a recent meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar directed officials concerned to complete the project at as soon as possible.

He said that the fare will be fixed according to the purchasing power of the common man. He expressed his hope that the people will be able to travel using the metro train by January 2020.

However, officials working on the project claim that this deadline is unachievable.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, an engineer working on the project revealed that even though sub-stations for the OLMT project have been energised, some civil and power-related works are still underway on OLMT Package-II (from Chauburji to Ali Town).

Construction work on OLMT started on October 25, 2015. The project stretches a total of 27.12 kilometres, out of which 25.4km of the track is elevated while 1.72km is underground to protect historical sites.

This train will complete a distance of 27km distance from Ali Town to Dera Gujran in 45 minutes. It will pass through congested areas of the city where more than 250,000 passengers travel on a daily basis.

Official documents highlight that within next few years, orange line metro train will facilitate 500,000 passengers daily.

Once the project is completed, it will connect Raiwind, Multan Road, Mcleod 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.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2019.

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