LAHORE - The Punjab government could not complete the Orange Line despite hectic efforts to make it operational before the end of its five-year tenure on May 31.

Although the train has completed a test-run on multi-billion urban transport project, officials say the track will be opened for passengers in September.

Khawaja Ahmed Hassan, who heads the steering committee of Orange Line Metro Train for last two years, said the construction work will continue on the project with the same pace during caretaker tenure and Commission Lahore will act as head of the committee till the formation of next government.

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.

Sources said 90 percent of electric, mechanical and track work on project has yet to be completed.

The track is 27.1km (cut and cover section: 1.72km, elevated: 25.4km) long and divided into two packages for construction work.

Sources said the progress of civil work on package-I from Dera Gujjaran, GT Road to Chouburji was more than 90 percent, on package-II from Chouburji to Ali Town was 85 percent, on Depot near Dera Gujjaran was 90 per cent and on Stabling Yard near Ali Town it was around 90 per cent. Progress on electrical and mechanical work on the project was around 80 per cent while work for laying metallic track as well as installation of electrical and mechanical equipment was around 75 per cent. They said that electric, mechanical and track work especially on package-II might take another one month to be completed.

The train will run on experimental basic for two months after completion of the project. Hence, according to sources, the project if completed in the end of June then it will take another two months to be fully operational.

Khawaja Hassan said that since the project was a part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor so there was no reason of delay in construction work on it during caretaker setup. He said the remaining civil, electric and mechanical work will not take more than a month to complete.

He said it did not matter the train could not become operational in PML-N tenure. People knew it was a gift of Shehbaz government to the people of Punjab and especially of Lahore, he said.

He said 27 sets of orange trains had already arrived and negotiations for fixation of fare with the Chinese company responsible for train operation were in the final phase. It was up to the next government now that what fare it fixed for passengers, he added.

Officials say five coaches are attached with each train and it has capacity to transport 1,000 passengers in one trip. Thus more than 27,000 passengers will be able to travel on 27 metro trains in one trip. One train is set to make 10 trips in a day and hence relying upon the authorities’ claim, it is estimated that more than 250,000 passengers will travel daily through metro trains when they will fully start their operation in the city of more than 11 million people. It is estimated that the number of commuters will double in the next five years, the time when the Chinese company will hand over the train operation to the Punjab government.

The Parks and Horticulture Authority designed an ornamental lightening system for illumination of track. As the train will operate with electricity, an electric sub-station near University of Engineering and Technology was also completed.

The metro train will operate at a commercial speed of 80 kilometres per hour and cover 27km Ali Town to Dera Gujjaran journey in 45 minutes. There are total 26 stations on the track -- 24 are elevated and two are cut and cover stations.