Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) starts service
25 October 2020: After a delay of nearly three years, the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) starts its commercial service.
As an early harvest project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Orange Line was constructed by China State Railway Group Co Ltd and China North Industries Corporation and was operated by Guangzhou Metro Group, Norinco International and Daewoo Pakistan Express Bus Service.
27 energy-saving electric trains, each comprising five air-conditioned wagons, with the operating speed of 80km per hour, provides a comfortable, secure and economical traveling facility to 250,000 passengers daily, according to Xinhua.
One-way train fare from Dera Gujran to Ali Town is Rs 40 (25 US cents).
Below is a timeline of how it all happened over the years.
9 August 2018: The OLMT is likely to face more delays as the caretaker government has stopped the payments for all ongoing projects. Earlier, the contractors were advised to wait till 25 July Election Day. However, it is now being indicated that the fate of all development projects will be decided by the new government. – Express Tribune
16 May: Test run ceremony of OLMT was held today at Islam Park station.
27 Feb: History in the making: The Lahore citizens saw a trial run of OLMT today. The train, as part of its trial run, was run near its depot and authorities said that a 12km portion of the track, from Dera Gujran to Lakshmi Chowk, will be completed during this week.
2 Feb: Islampark Station: In an attempt to make up for the loss of time caused due to the stay order of the Lahore High Court on the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project for 14 months, the construction work is being continued at an expedited speed, a senior government official said.
8 Dec 2017: The Supreme Court dismisses the decision of Lahore High Court halting work on selected sites of the OLMT project.
The court accepts the appeal of the Punjab government against the LHC decision with conditions and rules by a 4-1 judgment that it observes no illegalities in the multi-billion-rupee project.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, had reserved its verdict in the case on April 17 this year. The bench includes Justices Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Maqbool Baqar, Ijazul Ahsan and Mazhar Alam Miankhel.
Although the court allows the Punjab government to go ahead with the project at the same speed, the bench sets 31 conditions to ensure the project’s transparency. It also asks for forming a five-member technical committee with overarching authority for a year.
The committee will include experts from the archaeology department as well as a former Supreme Court justice. It will present its recommendations to the chief minister. – Geo
6 Dec: The Chinese staff will control and supervise the functioning of the OLMT for five years. Adviser to CM Khawaja Ahmad Hassan says that the Chinese staff will impart training to the local staff, which would enable them to operate the train system later.
8 Oct: The first train for OLMT, which arrived in Lahore from China this week, was unveiled by the Punjab CM.
Only 12 weeks are left in the expiry of 25 December deadline. The authorities are in no position to announce a fresh deadline as three different cases – environment, heritage and transparency – are with courts.
The authorities say they have alternative plans A, B and C ready to deal with every situation although the details of these fallback plans cannot be divulged at this stage. More later this month.
25 Sept: The first shipment of rolling stock for OLMT, which arrived in Karachi from China last week, is to reach Lahore this week.
23 train sets will arrive in Lahore by the end of this year. Coaches for all the 27 trains will be available in Lahore by mid-March 2018.
75 per cent of civil work OLMT Project has been completed so far. Progress:
- Package-I from Dera Gujran, GT Road to Chauburji: 86.2 percent
- Package-II from Chauburji to Ali Town: 53.5 percent
- Depot near Dera Gujran: 79.3 percent
- Stabling Yard near Ali Town: 75.3 percent
15 May: A train designed for OLMT rolled off the production line in central China’s Hunan. It is the first of the 27 trains being bought for OLMT. The trains will arrive in Lahore by end of year.
26 April: Preliminary work for laying track for OLMT project starts at Islam Park station while first consignment of rolling stock from China will be received in June.
17 April: The Supreme Court reserves its judgement in the case of OLMT Project in Lahore after two weeks of hearings.
A five-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan continued to hear an appeal by the Punjab government against the Lahore High Court’s August 2016 order that had suspended the construction of the Rs 45 billion OLMT within 200 feet of 11 historical sites in the city.
2 Feb: LDA, Nespak and TEPA have been directed for remodelling of roads through U-turns, intersections and other solutions at appropriate points for smooth flow of vehicles along 27km track of OLMT, passing through busy and congested areas of Lahore city.
Meanwhile, OLMT’s Chinese contractors, CR-NORINCO, strongly criticise the Punjab government for its failure to get a go-ahead from a court to start construction at 12 heritage sites under litigation. The delay has lasted over a year. The contractors ask authorities to outline the time period required to get OLMT project cleared from the court. No construction activity can start on the underground central station near Mall Road until then.
OMLT project progress by end-January
- Package-I from Dera Gujran, G T Road to Chauburji: 75 percent
- Package-II from Chauburji to Ali Town: 45 percent
- Package-III depot near Dera Gujran: 63 percent
- Package-IV Stabling Yard near Ali Town: 59 percent
26 Jan 2017: The FBR issues a notification to grant ECC-approved Rs 20 billion exemption from taxes and duties on the import of machinery and equipment for the Lahore’s OLMT project.
21 Nov 2016: The OLMT project will not be able to meet its Dec 2017 completion deadline, a senior technical expert associated with the project told Dawn.
Work on package-II of the project has been on hold after the Punjab government cancelled the contract awarded to the Maqbool and Calson Joint Venture (MCJV) and re-tendered the project to another firm, Zahir Khan & Brothers (ZKB).
26 Oct: OLMT project may face substantial delays as construction has been stopped near 11 heritage sites on court orders while the contract of one of the builders for Package-II has been revoked for sluggish performance.
More than 50 percent of ground civil works on Package-1 between Dera Gujran and Chauburji is complete.
To find replacement contractor for remaining civil works on Package-2 between Chauburji and Ali Town, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has received seven new bids. Time for completion of remaining civil works has now been increased from 130 days to 150 days.
The Chinese contractors will start laying rail tracks and initiate electrical works on completed sections of the OLMT track from January 2017.
It may be challenging for the Chinese engineers to install rails before the deadline as construction activity has already been delayed by nearly a year.
The Metro train will run on 750 volts of electricity. Lahore Electricity Supply Company (Lesco) has started constructing new grid stations which will be up and running before the project’s completion date.
14 Oct: The Supreme Court appoints a two-man commission of experts for re-verification of the environmental assessment reports on OLMT project of Lahore in 30 days. It will comprise TYPSA-Asian Consulting Engineers and Prof Robin Coningham, an expert on archaeology.
15 Sept: Work starts on manufacturing 27 automatic trains for OLMT project.
19 Aug: Lahore High Court (LHC) stops Metro train construction near 11 heritage sites. These are: Shalamar Garden, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Buddhu ka Awa, Chauburji, Zebunnisa’s Tomb, Lakshmi Building, GPO, Aiwan-i-Auqaf, Supreme Court’s Lahore registry, St Andrews Presbyterian Church and Baba Mauj Darya Bukhari’s shrine. Appeal is to go to Supreme Court.
19 Aug: LHC dismisses petitions regarding environmental concerns related to OLMT.
23 Feb 2016: EXIM Bank of China is giving soft loan to the Punjab government for OLMT project, tweeted CM. The loans will be payable in 20 years.
It is for the first time that tendering took place in the govt-to-govt (G2G) mode of financing. NORINCO, the lowest bidder, quoted a cost of $2.139 billion.
The Punjab government negotiated with the contractor to bring the cost down and was able to secure a saving of more than $600 million. They settled on $1.47 billion (PKR 154 billion) as the project cost.
10 Oct 2015: PM Sharif chairs a meeting on OLMT project in Lahore as civil works start on Multan Road and Metro route.
21 June: Civilian work on OLMT starts this week by the Punjab government. Geotagging to complete by 28 June: Nespak
14 May: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) gives a go-ahead to the Rs165.2/$1.62 billion OLMT project, which will be funded by a $1.6 billion concessionary loan from China.
OLMT is part of 50+ CPEC projects which were signed during the visit of China’s President Xi Jingping to Pakistan.
28 April 2015: The Provincial Development Working Party in Punjab approves Orange LineMetro Train (OLMT) in Lahore at the cost of Rs 165.2 billion ($1.6 billion).
A representative delegation of China Railways and Norinco International China had met Punjab CM earlier this month and agreed on the OLMT project.
OLMT project will result in speedy, comfortable and economical transport facilities to the citizens and will revolutionise transport system.
The 27/1km OLMT will be completed in three years including delays. 26 stations will be constructed on the route and nearly 200,000 people will commute every day. Operating speed will be 80 km/h (50 mph).
OLMT will prove to be a milestone in mass-transit railway (MTR) transport.
Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) Lahore Highlights:
Track: 25.4km elevated; 1.72km underground
Operating speed: 80km per hour
Journey time: 45 minutes
Start: January 2016
Completion due: Fall 2018
Cost (revised): Rs 154 billion (US$1.5 billion)
Wali Zahid is a longtime China watcher and a Pakistan futurist. An award-winning journalist, he writes on issues of significance to Pakistan and CPEC & BRI.