KCR on same route, fare on distance traveled, BRT connections
The projector, sound system and stage were set up in the waiting area of platform No. 7 at Karachi’s Cantt station for a public hearing Wednesday on the possible environmental impact on the city that could be caused by bringing the Karachi Circular Railway back to life.
Pakistan Railways Project Director Amir Daudpota, design consultant Ejaz Khilji and representatives of firms that had prepared the environmental impact assessment were present.
One would expect civil society and environmental activists to be in the audience but as with any KCR briefing, meeting or even case hearing, the hall was full of people who have been rendered homeless after the Supreme Court ruled that houses be demolished in the way of the KCR tracks.
For these homeless people, this public hearing was another chance – no matter how small – to speak of their ordeal and press for what they had been promised: a home in place of home that had been razed to the ground.
As the question-answer session started, hands started going up in desperation.
One such victim who got a chance to speak was a resident of Quaid-e-Azam Colony. Just a month earlier, the authorities had destroyed his house and he had to move into a rented one. His wife has been diagnosed with cancer. “Should I get her the treatment or pay Rs12,000 to my landlord?” he asked. “If we get late by a day or two [on rent], the landlord will humiliate us. We are not alone. There are many like us who are suffering.”
Mohammad Haseeb, who was representing EMC Pakistan Private Ltd, gave a presentation on the environmental impact assessment of KCR that his firm had prepared. Haseeb said that since the existing KCR route would be revived, starting the service back up again would have a minimum impact on the environment.
To give an idea of the impact of the train service on the city, Haseeb said that as many as 473,000 people would use the KCR daily. This would not only reduce pressure on traffic but also bring down pollution as fewer vehicles would be on the roads.
Storm water drains would be built along the track, so it could keep running even during peak monsoon rains.
As the KCR goes through densely populated areas, the report recommends something has to be done to reduce noise pollution and vibration that the train would generate. One such solution is absorption pads or Rail Pads. These are rubber pads installed on the tracks between the steel rail and concrete sleepers on the tracks to reduce vibration generated by a moving train.
Electric locomotives, double track
Unlike the old KCR system which was a single track on a wider gauge, the new one will be double track so the train can run from both ends at the same time. Plus, it will be a standard gauge track. Most of the tracks in Pakistan which were laid during the British era are wider gauge. Also, the locomotives will run on electricity and have a maximum speed of 80km/hour.
Designer Ejaz Khilji said that Pakistan Railways has signed an agreement with KE for an uninterrupted supply of electricity to run the trains. KCR has been added to a list of preferential consumers which include Karachi airport and the high court that get an uninterrupted supply. KE will provide KCR 60MW.
KCR route still relevant
One criticism that the government has been facing on bringing KCR back is that it is trying run the train on the old route and since the city has expanded exponentially people won’t want to use it as it will be too far from home.
Muhammad Mubashir Gul, a transport planner working as a technical consultant with Exponent Engineering, disagreed. “It’s quite a sweeping statement,” he said. “So people are willing to travel on the rooftops of the buses, but won’t use KCR?”
He said that KCR will merge with all the bus rapid transit routes that will be constructed into an integrated mass transit system. KCR stations will be built every 1,100 to 1,200 meters apart. So it would be factually wrong to say that one would have to walk 4kms to catch a KCR train.
KCR MD Ameer Mohammad Daudpota said that KCR is part of a bigger Karachi mass transit system under which six BRT lines would be constructed.
The Green Line is almost ready and work on the Yellow and Red Lines with the help of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank is done. The design is ready, he said.
So, if a person is coming from Safoora Goth or University of Karachi, they can take the Red Line (once it’s built) to NIPA and get on the KCR from Gillani or Urdu Science university station and go to Mereweather Tower or Site or Baldia.
Distance based-fare for KCR
Mubashir Gul said that the difference between Karachi’s mass transit system and the metro systems of Lahore, Multan and Islamabad is that KCR will charge travelers fare depending on how far they travel. The more you travel, the more you have to pay.
It will not be a flat fare, in which you have to pay a certain fare irrespective of whether you’re travelling for two stops or 22.
The Government of Sindh has approved the fare for the Green Line BRT service which will be working soon. That will be a ticket between Rs15 for the first 2km and Rs5 for every additional 2kms. A similar fare will be introduced for the KCR, he said. Since there’s time in getting the KCR up and running, the fare might change a bit to adjust inflation.
A separate secretariat will be opened to handle grievances that will arise during the construction or operation of KCR.
Published In Ismail Sheikh November 11, 2021