Karachi Circular Railway has always been a controversial project and immensely challenging for Sindh and the federal government. After many funding approvals and the obstacles to kick start this project, each time led the Karachiites to forget the most affordable and expansive Karachi Mass Transit System.
However, the federal government successfully takes its baby steps to improve the transportation system of the largest metropolitan of Pakistan. Karachi, the coastal area, comes across many traffic congestion issues due to the insufficient and underdeveloped mass transit system.
On the other hand, the inadequate urban infrastructure creates challenges for the ever-increasing population of Karachi. In this scenario, the government of Pakistan kicked off the infrastructural development of the central Karachi Circular Railway, which lingered in limbo for more than two decades.
What is Karachi Circular Railway, and why does it remain in the limelight for a quarter of a century? Even the attempts of stakeholders and the government to start this project failed. The article will provide complete details on the Karachi Circular Railway Project. So, let’s dive deep into this contentious and demanding venture!
KARACHI CIRCULAR RAILWAY HISTORY & BACKGROUND
The history of this significant dates back to 1885 when the British Empire began to strengthen its military and administrative prowess in the subcontinent after the war of independence in 1857. As a result, massive railway lines were developed all over South Asia to make mobility more convenient and enhance trade.
Karachi Circular Railway was also planned under the secretary and engineer James Strachan of the city’s municipal in 1881. However, the project was completed in a short period of four years and inaugurated in 1884 successfully.
The steam-powered cars carried passengers and goods along the 47-km long railway track. However, horse trams soon replaced them in 1902. Because steam cars created noise pollution and caused problems for the local population.
Later, the petrol cars entirely replaced the motor cars in 1912. The headway time for trains was fifteen minutes at each station. During peak hours, more than 100 trains were operating at this historical railway track.
These glorious railways could carry 6 million people daily from Darigh Chowk to the Karachi City Station. The eighty trains were operational on the mainline. And, the remaining trains were providing services to the larger population on the main loop.
However, the revenues shrunk after the independence of Pakistan, and it started suffering huge losses after 1964. Due to many financial problems, the suspension of railway services began in 1999.
After many unsuccessful attempts in 2001 and 2017, it resumed its operations partially on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2020.
However, the PTI government took extraordinary measures to kick start this remarkable project in 2021 on a public-private partnership basis. This project will complete in three years. The federal government approved 10.5 billion rupees for this project having far-reaching effects on the urban development of Sindh.
KCR PROJECT FUNDING
Karachi Circular Railway funding has been hectic due to the differences between parties in the public and private sectors. At first, the authorities included this project in the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2016. But unfortunately, Karachi Circular Railway CPEC failed to receive the attention and resources it deserved and the authorities expected it to obtain.
Later, the Japan International Cooperate Agency (JICA) agreed to provide a loan of 2.6 billion at a much lower interest rate with favorable loan terms.
After the project’s approval in 2021, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) will provide 273.071 billion rupees for this Urban Rail Mass Transit System. The federal government will give the 40% of the total cost in subsidies. This percentage is equivalent to 90 billion rupees paid back to the federal government by providing the land on lease for 99 years.
KARACHI CIRCULAR RAILWAY ROUTE MAP
The development of 30 Karachi Circular Railway Stations from Darigh Chowk to New City Karachi is part of the plan, adding 16 new stations. Moreover, it will help connect the significant commercial and business centers with the residential areas. North Nazimabad, Gulistan-e Jauhar and Shahrah-Faisal, and other city arteries will be connected as planned in the Karachi Circular Railway map.
The new modal of KCR will eliminate the 22-level authorized and unauthorized crossings at different points. Moreover, new flyovers and bridges will be a part of this infrastructural overhauling process. In addition, to pursue sustainable development goals, the government will launch electric trains to reduce the pollution level in the coastal area.
These trains will run at a speed of 80m/h without any crossings, ensuring smooth and time-saving travel. As a result, the expectations of daily ridership are up to 4 million daily from the initial ridership of 1 million per day.
The five coaches in each train will have a capacity of carrying 814 passengers in a single trip. The Karachi Circular Railway ticked price will vary between Rs.35 to Rs.90, depending on the project feasibility.
Karachi Circular Railway schedule 2022 will finally decide the fate of many people in Karachi. It’s a source of relief due to the affordability and convenience it carries. But, on the other hand, the concrete steps by the government can only ensure successful project completion in three years.
The government has already taken the first step and inaugurated it as part of its Karachi Transformation Plan (KTP). Although there’re many doubts about the financial viability of this controversial project, work began on the project in January 2022.
After the successful launch of Karachi Green line, the eyes are set on this long-awaited project to handle Karachi’s traffic issues. The government has planned to connect the BRT with the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) to ensure smooth and seamless traffic and transportation system. Moreover, it will help level up the connectivity of significant districts of Karachi. So let’s wait and watch how the project culminates!