Lahore’s first metro train set for test run

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The first trains on the long-awaited Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) in Lahore are set to begin their test run on October 28, with passengers scheduled for travelling in the first quarter of 2020.

The $1.6 billion automated mass transit project is Pakistan’s first metro project. The Orange Line will span 27.1km with 25.4km elevated and 1.72km underground. With a capacity that will allow for transporting 250,000 passengers daily, the line will be served by 26 stations.

Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar was recently informed by officials about the progress on the project. Construction work on 13 substations has already been completed successfully, and a maiden test is scheduled on the train powered with high-voltage electricity. The construction of 11 other substations is due to be completed by November this year.

Former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif initiated the project in 2014, with completion scheduled for 2017. However, concerns over the damage to several of Lahore’s historical sites and difficulties in generating enough energy to power the system meant that the project was stalled for several years. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to officially launch the project in March 2020.

Experts involved in the project noted that the trains are expected to cater to around 30,000 passengers every hour. At later stages, the transport system is expected to expand its services to 300,000 passengers by 2023.

The project came into being as part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the governments of Pakistan and China in May 2014. Financing was secured in December the following year, when China’s Exim Bank agreed to provide a soft loan of around $1.5 billion, and construction officially began in October 2015. Several Chinese trains have been imported to run the track, with stops in all densely populated areas.