MUHAMMAD SOHAIL JANJUA - Transport system of a city has a profound impact on residential patterns, economic growth and physical and social mobility of its residents. Most of the cities of the world have understood this impact and invested heavily on their transport system.

Lahore, housing 11 million people, with an annual growth rate of 8 per cent, is the second largest city of Pakistan where people generate 6.8 million trips daily. Due to unavailability of a mass transit network, people have no option but go in private vehicles or get aboard decades old and uncomfortable public transport resulting in air pollution and traffic jams. Because of their insufficient number, travelling through these buses is hazardous, unsafe and fatal at times.

Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and due to untiring efforts of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, communication infrastructure and transport framework has taken a game changing turn. After the successful launch of Metro bus system in Lahore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad and Multan, Lahore is now going to welcome Metro Train System; the biggest mass transit project and first of its kind in Pakistan. The metro train system will be a revolution in public transport, offering an honorable, safe and efficient mode of travelling to common people without interfering with the traffic flow.

This state-of-the-art Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project is backed by the exceptionally supportive government of Peoples Republic of China, which has graciously provided soft loan of 1.626 billion US dollars through China Exim Bank. In this regard a loan signing ceremony has been held which will unfold a new chapter of friendship and trust. This project is perceived as a great gift from Chinese people and has made the dreams come true.

After completion, 250,000 passengers will travel to their destinations every day through 27 train sets, each comprising of 5 cars. The 27-km long Metro Train track having 26 high-tech stations will pass from densely populated areas of Lahore and the end to end journey will be covered in just 45 minutes contrary to the present travel time of almost two and half hours.

The project will have direct economic benefits of over 39 billion rupees per annum in passengers total time and vehicle operating cost saving. This electrically operated train is an environment friendly addition which will replace old vehicles, thus significantly reducing vehicular emissions causing pollution and health hazards.

Under a guaranteed transparent system, people friendly leadership of the Punjab has multiple upcoming projects to upgrade transport infrastructure under the Lahore Rapid Mass Transit System. Orange Line Metro Train Project is currently underway to facilitate millions of people. This project is indeed harbingers of a brighter and more mobile future.

The alignment of Lahore Orange Line is based on rigorous traffic engineering modeling and parameters, including Origin-Destination Surveys (ODS), Traffic Count Surveys (TCS), Rider-ship Surveys (RS). The alignment is set for the metro train in such a way to achieve maximum rider-ship, minimize the land acquisition and not compromising sanctity of the historical buildings.

Total length of the track of metro train will be 27.12 kilometers out of which 25.4 kilometers portion will be constructed 12 meters above the ground level while the remaining 1.72 kilometers section will be constructed under ground. The route will be from Ali Town Raiwind Road to Dera Gujran at G.T. Road. The alignment will be from Ali Town to Thokar Niaz Baig via Raiwind Road, Thokar Niaz Baig to Chuburji via Multan Road, Chuburji to GPO Chowk via Lake Road and Ustad Allah Bukhsh Road, GPO Chowk to Bohar Wala Chowk via Mcload Road and Nicholson Road, Bohar Wala Chowk to Sultanpura over the Railway Lines, and Sultanpura to Dera Gujran/Ring Road Interchange via GT Road. Rolling Stock will be 27 train sets, each train will have five cars.

The stations will be situated at Ali Town, Thokar Niaz Baig, Canal View, Hanjarwal, Wahdat Road, Awan Town, Sabzazar, Shahnoor, Scheme Morr/Salahuddin Road, Yateem Khana / Bund Road, Samanabad, Gulshan-I-Ravi, Chauburgi, Anarkali Station, Central station, Lakshami, Railway Station, Sultanpura, UET, Baghbanpura, Shalamar Garden, Pakistan Mint, Mahmood Booti, Salmatpura and Islampark and Dera Gujran.

The execution period of the project is 27 months. The civil works of the project on Package-1 (Dera Gujran to Chauburgi) and Package-2 (Chauburgi to Ali Town) are underway through Lahore Development Authority which is the executing agency for civil works. The main items for the civil works to be executed by LDA are Elevated Viaduct, Underground Section (cut & cover), Stations (24 elevated and 2 underground) and Depot and Stabling Yard.

Underground (cut and cover) option was adopted for 1.72 km portion of orange line after a comprehensive study done by NESPAK keeping in view the sensitive nature of historical buildings in the vicinity, to protect the façade of these buildings and to reduce the land acquisition.

Historic buildings protected under Punjab special Premises (Preservation) ordinance 1985 in the vicinity of metro train alignment are Lakshmi Building, General Post Office (G.P.O), Aiwan-e-Auqaf (Shah Chiragh) Building, Supreme Court Registry Building and Mauj Darya Darbar & Mosque. There is another old building of Saint Andrew’s church in the vicinity which is not protected under Punjab special premises (preservation) ordinance 1985, however LDA has shown due care and exceptional vigilance to safeguard its integrity. Most of the historical buildings were near Mall road so Cut & Cover technique was adopted to protect the integrity of façade of these archaeological sites.

In case of Lakshmi building, where train is elevated, due care is being taken to keep the ground borne vibrations within limits so that there is no negative affect on the building. It is worth mentioning that trains to be operated for Orange Line project do not fall in the category of high speed trains as maximum operating speed will be less than 80 Km/hr. according to German standards, the maximum vibration velocity at the foundation level of the heritage structure shall be less than 3mm/sec. the theoretical 2D FEA model of pier-ground system of light rail train viaduct system similar to Orange line project, it is concluded that beyond a distance of 10-12 m from the main pier of rail the ground borne vibrations (GBV) are negligible (<0.30 mm/sec). Therefore, Curves were adjusted near the Archaeological monuments under allowable limits to avoid any visual barrier.

Shalamar Garden, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Budhu’s Tomb, Choburji and Zeb un Nisa Tomb are the buildings protected under Antiquities act 1975 along the alignment of Orange Line project. Approvals from the concerned departments / Authorities have been taken regarding special premises and other historical buildings covered under Punjab Special Premises Ordinance 1985 and Antiquities Act 1975. Long Live Pakistan-China friendship.