LAHORE - The Punjab government is all set to launch the test-run of much-awaited Orange Line Metro Train today.

The dignitaries from Pakistan and China will ride the train from Dera Gujran to Stabling Yard at Ali Town where Minister for Transport Muhammad Jahanzaib Khan Khichi will unveil plaque and address the ceremony of commissioning of the project.

The OLMT will be operated by a joint venture of China Railway and Norinco for the first 5 years. Infrastructure for the line has an expected life span of approximately 100 years with routine maintenance.

Out of 27.1km route, 25.4 km is elevated and 1.72km underground. The line served by 26 stations – 24 elevated and 2 underground at Anarkali and GPO Chowk – is expected to handle 250,000 passengers daily. Main depot and central control room has been set up at Dera Gujran. 

The alignment parallels several of Lahore’s major thoroughfares, including the Grand Trunk Road, McLeod Road, Lake Road, Multan Road and Raiwind Road. The Orange Line will connect several important nodes in Lahore, including the Shalimar Gardens, University of Engineering and Technology, Railways Station, Chuburji Square and Ali Town.

Infrastructure has 100-year life

From Dera Gujran Station in northeast, the route travels 5.5km westward with stations at Islam Park, Salamatpura, Mahmood Booti, Pakistan Mint, and Shalimar Gardens. Traveling west from Shalimar Station, the track returns to the median of GT Road, with stops at Baghbanpura, University of Engineering and Technology, and Sultanpura. From Sultanpura, the line then leads towards  Railways Station. From there, it travels southwest along McLeod road towards Lakshmi Chowk Station. The total distance from Sultanpura to Lakshmi Chowk is 2.5km.

Leaving Lakshmi Chowk, the line travels southwest along McLeod Road, and descends into the 1.15km underground portion that leads to the first underground station in the system, the Central Station at GPO Chowk. From Central Station, the line continues from McLeod Road and travels under Allah Baksh Road before turning south to second underground station, Anarkali.

From Anarkali Station, the route continues under Jain Mandir and Lytton Road and then emerges along Lake Road and travels above ground towards Chuburji Station.

From Chauburji the line continues 4.5km towards the southwest, along the median of Multan Road. Elevated stations are located at Gulshan-e-Ravi, Samanabad, Bund Road, Salahuddin Road, and Shahnoor. From Shahnoor, the line shifts from Multan Road’s median and travels along the road’s southern/eastern side with a stop at Sabzazar Station. The line continues along Multan Road’s edge until Awan Road Station, after which it reverts to Multan Road’s median. Leaving Awan Road Station, the line continues to travel southwest along Multan Road until it reaches Wahdat Station. The line 5.2 kilometers along Multan and Raiwind Roads, with stops at Hanjarwal Station, Canal View, Thokar Niaz Baig, before terminating at Ali Town.

The OLMT will initially carry 250,000 passengers per day, with ridership of 500,000 passengers per day three years after commencement of service.

The system is designed to operate with a minimum headway of two minutes. It is expected that the station will serve 24,520 passengers per hour in the first year of operations – a figure which is expected to rise to 49,550 by 2025.

The system’s busiest station is projected to be Anarkali Station with an estimated 45,550 daily trips in the first year of operations, rising to 110,000 trips in 2025. Lakshmi Chowk is expected to be the second busiest station in the first year of operations with 23,200 trips, and 41,500 in 2025. Lahore Railways Station is expected to be the third busiest station within the line’s first year of operation with 17,500 trips, rising to 44,000 in 2025.

The maximum speed of the trains is 80 km/h (50 mph) per hour. The total ride time from one end of the system to the other is estimated to be 45 minutes, compared to the current commute time from 2 to 5 hours.

The OLMT is planned to be in operation for 18 hours per day, between 05:30 and 23:30.

The project was initiated with a signed memorandum of understanding between the governments of Pakistan and China in May 2014. Financing for the project was secured in December 2015 when China’s Exim Bank agreed to provide a soft loan of $1.55 billion. Construction works on the project began in October 2015. Habib Construction Services was awarded the first phase in October 2015 for ₨21.49 billion (US$150 million). In October 2016, Phase 2 of the project was awarded to ZKB Engineers and Constructors for civil works between Chauburji and Ali Town at a cost of Rs11.39 billion. CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive rolled out the first of 27 trains for the metro on May 16, 2017.