Much-awaited OLMT goes for test run in Lahore

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In a positive development, the first train under the mass-transit project Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) hit the rails for the trial run on Tuesday afternoon.

Punjab Minister for Transport Jahanzaib Khan Khichi and Minister for Information and Culture Fayyazul Hassan Chohan experienced the maiden ride of the train powered with high-voltage electricity.

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The maximum speed of the train is 80 km/h, but the train will run at an average speed of 34.8 km/h. The Orange Line is an automated rapid transit system in Punjab’s capital Lahore.

The line will span 27.1 km (16.8 mi) with 25.4 km (15.8 mi) elevated and 1.72 km (1.1 mi) underground. Out of the total 26 substations, 24 are elevated and two are located underground.

The line is expected to handle about 200,000 passengers daily, and they will be able to cover the 27 kilometres within just 45 minutes. Orange Train will cover a distance of 27 km in 45 minutes helping approximately 200,000 passengers daily.

Jain Mandir and Shalimar Stations have been developed in accordance with their cultural heritage. It is pertinent here to mention that former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif had inaugurated test run of Lahore Orange Line Metro Train on a diesel run locomotive engine.

He boarded the metro train from Islam Park Station and completed the test run from Islam Park to Laxmi Chowk successfully. However, the PTI government has decided to run the train on electricity.

The train will run on electricity even when fully operational which will significantly increase burden on national exchequer as well as OMLT will use electricity allocated for residents of Lahore.

Power houses have been constructed on the track of train, UET and Multan Road station will receive 54 MW of electricity each. For smooth running of Metro Bus and Orange Train Mass Transit Authority has demanded 108 MW of electricity from LESCO; which was fulfilled by LESCO.

LESCO will use fours circuits of 132KV to provide uninterrupted supply of electricity to Orange Train. LESCO will charge Rs13 per unit from Orange Train, according to this tariff Orange Train will consume electricity of Rs1.10 Billion monthly and over Rs13 billion annually.

According to experts 108 MW of electricity provided by LESCO is equal to usage of 150,000 homes in Lahore. On the other hand, LESCO Chief Executive Mujahid Pervaiz said that supply of 108MW of electricity to Orange train will not affect common consumers.

Work on Orange train started on October 2, 2015 after securing USD 1.6 Billion loan from Exim Bank of China. Project was to be completed in 27 months but due to stay order issued by Lahore High Court and exponential increase in cost of project, work progressed slowly and even after 50 months project hasn’t met its completion.

Though it is frequently mentioned as a part of the wider China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Orange line was financed by the Government of Punjab.

According to PC-1, the project was expected to be completed within 27 months, but the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) stay order, slow work, and staggering increase in the cost delayed the project’s inauguration.

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 for the project. Construction works on the project began in October 2015.

Speaking at a ceremony held on the eve of test trial of Orange Line Metro Train project by the Pakistan Mass Transit Authority in Ali Town, Chohan said that Pakistani rulers have much to learn from economic progress made by China. Real guardians of orange line metro train project are the people rather than security institutions or the government. Ongoing projects under CPEC are neither property of one government nor of any one family. It rather depicts Pakistani government’s cordial relations with China.

Chohan said that project was part of CPEC which was being launched during Pervaiz Musharraf’s tenure and now this project was given final shape by Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar’s government. Cost of Rs 25 billion will be incurred annually on Orange Line Metro Train project and Punjab government will grant Rs 5 billion subsidy annually, he stated. PTI government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan will complete all projects of previous government with an open heart. May Allah Almighty grant more progress to Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and set to tread the 1200 billion under debt Punjab province on the path of progress and prosperity, he concluded.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said the incumbent government was stubbornly inaugurating Shehbaz Sharif’s project.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said Prime Minister Imran Khan criticised Metro Bus and Orange Line projects for ten years and his government was cutting the ribbon of the same project. He should tell the nation who made this project, she commented.

“PM Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar are too ashamed to inaugurate the project themselves. Shehbaz Sharif made five metro projects whereas the incompetent leadership could not complete Peshawar metro in five years.

“Shehbaz Sharif had already run the Orange Line project on trial basis on May 16, 2018 but the Imran Khan’s incompetent government could not start the project in 15 months.”