LAHORE - Although 40 to 50 percent of electric, mechanical and track work on Orange Line Metro Train Project has yet to be completed, the Punjab government intends to inaugurate the train service before completion of its five-year term on May 31.

To meet the target, according to some insiders, the contractors on government directions have deployed additional workforce on different parts of the multi-billion 27.1km (cut and cover section: 1.72km, elevated: 25.4km) long track. The provincial government had earlier set May 10 deadline for completion of the project, but the deadline was extended for another two weeks later. It is now feared the train service might take another two months to become operational.

According to details, progress of civil work on package-I from Dera Gujjaran, GT Road to Chouburji was 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 61 per cent while work for laying metallic track as well as installation of electrical and mechanical equipment was around 50 per cent.

Insiders said that electric, mechanical and track work especially on package-II might take another two onths to be completed.

However, Khawaja Ahmad Hassan, chairman of the steering committee on OLMTP, says there is no reason for delay and the project will complete before May 31. Talking to The Nation on Tuesday, he said the remaining civil, electric and mechanical work will not take more than a month to complete.

Khawaja Hassan, who is set to chair the weekly review meeting on the project today (Wednesday), claimed the train service will revolutionise not only city’s urban transport culture but it would also be taken as example for country’s future transport projects. 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.

As five coaches are attached with each train, it has capacity to transport 1,000 passengers in one trip. Thus, according to Khawaja Hassan, 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. Khawaja Hassan said 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 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.

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.

It is important to mention here that the chief justice of Pakistan has already issued direction to complete the project as soon as possible, as it is causing unbearable dust on roads. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif is eager to inaugurate the train service before end of his government at all costs to use it as powerful slogan in PML-N’s election campaign.

The train service, even if inaugurated on the set deadline in last week of May, will run on an experimental basis for more than two months and the commuter transportation will become possible in mid of August.