With 14 of the 55km stretch of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) fully operational, celebrations have begun—perhaps a little too early. Authorities seem to have lost sight of the fact that the objective was for the project to be completed in its entirety. Instead, we hail this small progress as a success and begin congratulatory festivities while the future of the rest of the track remains to be decided. A reminder of the immense task that lies ahead is needed before we let it fade into insignificance.

The KCR project’s recovery has been mandated by the government and has been in the works for a few decades now, with little to no headway being made until recently. There is no denying that the initiation of the operations of the first fully-functioning strip is an achievement, but the government’s interest in the scheme and work towards its completion cannot stop here. Encroachment still remains an issue yet to be resolved. Furthermore, endless delays have also caused KCR’s cost to skyrocket substantially. With Rs1.8 billion promised, the allocation of those funds towards the revival of development is another barrier that authorities have to overcome.

Even when KCR is built entirely, there are still questions of whether the trains need to be updated to ones that are more technologically advanced, especially considering the entire system is planned to be operated on electricity. Furthermore, the provision of electricity is another cause of concern that has not been addressed still. Even maintenance of the railway system is an essential part of ensuring that the infrastructure retails smooth functioning in the future—a requirement completely neglected in planning currently.

The challenges that Pakistan Railway (PR) currently faces involve a poor backing by the provincial government, a tough land mafia, unwilling to let go of the encroached land, and a laid-back approach towards construction and project development as a whole. For the KCR to provide the benefits that it can, a new sense of commitment is required by all those involved.