Fifteen months after the introduction of Metro Bus Service, the Punjab government on Thursday moved towards launching the country’s first metro train by signing an agreement with a Chinese company.
The work on the $1.6 billion Orange Line Metro Train Project would start by the end of this year, according to the agreement signed in Shanghai between Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the National Development and Reform Commission China.President Mamnoon Hussain and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping were also present. According to a statement, the train will run on a 27.1-kilometre track, of which 25.4 kilometres will be elevated.
The service, scheduled to be begin within 27 months, will initially benefit around 250,000 passengers a day. The capacity will be increased to 500,000 passengers a day by 2025.
The train’s route will cover Thokar Niaz Beg, Multan Road, Chauburji, The Mall, Lakshmi Chowk, Railway Station, Garhi Shahu, GT Road, Pakistan Mint and Dera Gujjaran
Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony, Sharif said the Chinese government would provide funds for the project. The Punjab government would facilitate Chinese companies who would design, construct and monitor the project, he said.
He said the project would prove a landmark in the country’s history. He said it would provide modern travel facilities to the people and also bring about a revolution in the transport sector. He said the government had been working with friendly countries to provide improved means of travel.
“The Orange Line Metro Train Project is part of the government’s agenda to work for the welfare of people,” the chief minister said.
High standards of construction, speed and transparency would be ensured and efforts made to complete the project on time, he said.
Sharif said like the Metro Bus Service, the metro train would also be run in other cities after Lahore.
“Access to better, comfortable travel facilities is the right of citizens. The metro train is a step in this direction.”
Earlier, speaking at a meeting with the Chinese president, the chief minister said elimination of terrorism was imperative to curb poverty. “We can defeat terrorism and extremism with education, progress and prosperity.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2014.
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