Source: Global Times Published: 2019-12-12
Chinese expertise on public transportation will help Pakistan to better address its growing demand for public transportation, as the country tested its first-ever mass rapid transit train in Lahore, its economic hub, a Chinese expert said on Wednesday.
Pakistan on Tuesday put the Orange Line Metro Train through its first test run after the completion of the physical infrastructure stage of the project.
The move is a major step forward under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Zhou Rong, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said the addition of a first-rate, modern public transit service will be a major boon to the Pakistan economy and people as the country is set to surpass Brazil to become the world's fifth most populous country in the near future.
Pakistan is expected to have a population of 400 million by 2050, according to Zhou.
In Punjab, there are over 100 million people and Lahore has over 10 million residents, so public transportation has become a rising issue.
Addressing increasingly serious traffic congestion at an affordable cost will be a key, Zhou said.
The test run was made across Lahore via a 25 kilometer route. There are 26 stations including 24 elevated stops and two underground stations. It is expected to cut travel time by more than 70 percent, Xinhua reported.
The Xinhua News Agency described the project as a token of China-Pakistan friendship and a project that provides a high-class transportation service of international standards.
Zhou said the system will bring benefits to commuters and office workers in the city while the roomier train compartment provides ready access to an area exclusively for women.
Zhou predicted the tickets for such a service will be priced at an affordable level to allow the maximum number of citizens to use it.
Now into its sixth year, the focus of CPEC has shifted from addressing Pakistan's energy shortage woes to public transportation.
"The rolling out of an electrified subway system showed that Pakistan's energy issues are being effectively addressed," Zhou told the Global Times.
The system will have a total of 27 sets of energy-saving electric trains, with air-conditioned cabins and an operating speed of 80 km per hour.
It is expected to transport 250,000 passengers daily when it is fully operational in the first half of 2020, according to Xinhua. With another two rail lines, the Lahore Metro system is expected to transport half a million people daily by 2025.
The project funded by the Export-Import Bank of China is part of the CPEC and is built by a joint venture of China Railway Corporation and China North Industries Corporation.
Zhou Rong is a senior felllow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.