“A good country is the one in which trains run on time and carry happy passengers.” Mantaranjot Mangat The Metro Rail Systems have proven to be most efficient in terms of energy consumption, space occupancy and number of passengers transported the world over. Besides, there involve very low ground space occupation – two meters width only for elevated rail and can ensure hassle free faster journey. It is pertinent to mention that Metro trains have revolutionised mode of transportation everywhere in the world. These are operating successfully in the US, France, China, Japan, UAE, India etc., and now it is Pakistan’s turn to have a modern public transport system in a bid to minimise traffic woes and usher a new era of best-commuting facilities to the people of Lahore. That is why metro train mass transit systems have been declared as one of the best public transport systems in the world. Orange Line, an automated rapid mass transit system, is the first metro train of Pakistan since the Karachi Circular Railway which had closed its operations during 1999. The line spans over 27.1 km length with 25.4 km elevated and 1.72 km underground portions. The line is served by 26 stations and is designed to handle 250,000 passengers daily. Exim Bank China provided a soft loan of $1.55 billion for the Project. In order to ensure completion of the project in accordance with the high standards and quality, Punjab Mass Transit Authority, Government of the Punjab appointed NESPAK and China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co. (CEC) as a joint venture for providing consultancy services for execution of the project. As per agreement, NESPAK was responsible for bid evaluation, detailed design and construction supervision of civil works, while, CEC was mainly responsible for design consultation for civil works and review and supervision of electromechanical works. CR-NORINCO was the joint venture of China Railway Corporation and China North Industry Corporation for EPC contractor for electrical and mechanical works. NESPAK carried out design of civil works while taking into account the local natural, cultural, religious, environmental and other factors. The design not only meets the functional requirements of a modern urban rail, but also provides a modern, safe, comfortable and convenient means of transport for passengers. Construction work on the Project started in October 2015. Habib Construction Services was awarded the Phase-1 of the civil works from Chauburji to Deira Gujran for Rs. 21.49 billion (US$ 130 million). ZKB Engineers and Contractors was awarded Phase-2 for civil works between Chauburji and Ali Town for a cost of Rs. 11.39 billion. CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive rolled out the first batch of 27 trains on May 16, 2017. Testing and Trial runs began in March 2018. On October 25, 2020, Orange Line Train was inaugurated by Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar. Out of the 26 stations enroute, Anarkali and Central stations are underground, while the remaining 24 stations are elevated. Elevated stations have a width of 22.50 meters, while Anarkali Station is 16 meters wide, and Central Station is 49.50 meters wide. Elevated Stations are all 102 meters long, while Anarkali and Central Stations are 121.50 and 161.50 meters long, respectively. Stations feature automated doors between platforms and trains. Public areas of the station are air-conditioned. The Orange Line’s tracks are as per Chinese National Standards and employ jointless track circuits. Mainline track rail is 60 kg/m while rail in depot and stabling yard track is 50 kg/m. Track is laid on monolithic concrete track bed, with crossovers located between every 2 to 3 stations. Elastic fasteners have been used between tracks. The maximum speed of the trains is 80 km/h (50 mph). Total ride time from one end of the system to the other is estimated to be 45 minutes. To reduce the impact on environmental landscape, stations and bridges are supported by a single pier. Elevated stations with transparent curved glass curtain walls adopt a combination of straight and curved line, which is simple and elegant in looks. The elevated stations are designed utilizing building-bridge integrated structural system with single column piers and long cantilever beams. They reduce the land acquisition requirements. For underground section, new cover excavation method has been adopted which resulted in about 30% saving in the cost of civil works. Islamic architectural elements in Anarkali Station transform the station building into a landmark in the city centre. Elevated bridge (viaduct) for the orange line boasts a novel and attractive appearance. The bridge has a unique shape which includes U-shaped girders having S-shape curved configuration resting over gem shaped pier cap on a solid cylindrical pier. This shape has been adopted for the first time in the country for construction of any bridge. The bridge configuration reduces the structural height, enhances the visual clearness, effectively minimizes noise pollution and at the same time it complements the urban skyline. Each pier is supported on a group of generally 9 to 12 drilled shafts of 1200 mm dia and 16 to 25 m length. The number and length of piles increase at station locations. The shafts were drilled with modern rigs of straight rotary and rotary bucket auger types. A series of ultimate and proof load tests has also been carried out on shafts for the design verification as well to control the construction quality. Besides, every single shaft was also tested by Sonic Integrity Tester to ensure high quality of substructure. The completion of this unique project has added another feather to NESPAK’s cap. It is the first of its kind project in the history of Pakistan. Orange Line will not only help ease congested streets but also offer lucrative business opportunities. Like other developed parts of the world, common citizens in Lahore also deserve clean, quiet and air-conditioned public transport system. The electric trains will reduce traffic congestion, air and noise pollution in the vicinity of the most prominent monuments. The route also offers easy access to visitors to heritage sites of Shalamar Gardens, which would help attract tourists from across the country and abroad. “The train is a small world moving through a larger world.” ……. Elisha Cooper The writer is Managing Director of NESPAK.