Karachi Circular Railway
|Owner||Karachi Urban Transport Corporation|
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||3|
|Number of stations||23 rail|
|Headquarters||Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan|
|Host railroads||Pakistan Railways|
|System length||50 kilometres (31 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)|
Karachi Circular Railway (Urdu: کراچی مداری ریلوے; abbreviated KCR) is a defunct regional public transit system in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, which served the Karachi metropolitan area between 1969 and 1999. Revival of the railway has been proposed. With its hub at Karachi City station on I. I. Chundrigar Road, KCR's revived operations would extend as far as Gadap to the north, Dhabeji to the east, Kiamari to the south and Hub to the west. KCR is intended to be an inter-regional public transit system in Karachi which would connect several industrial and commercial districts within the city to the outlying suburbs. The revival effort of KCR have been proposed several times since becoming defunct, though remained unfulfilled due to lack of financial and political backing. In May 2017, the Government of Pakistan approved a ₨27.9 billion (US$200 million) restoration package for the KCR.
The federal government initially supported the project’s revival by bringing it under the CPEC umbrella, but it has made a U-turn. Sindh officials fear the federal government is looking for an excuse to suspend the project, pinning the responsibility of non-implementation on the province.
Karachi Circular Railway came into being during President Ayub Khan's tenure, who in 1962 suggested the use of trains as a means for short travel in Karachi. Operations began in 1969 under the administration of Pakistan Railways, with the aims to provide better transportation facilities to Karachi's growing population and outlying surrounding suburban communities. The original KCR line extended from Karachi City station and ended at Drigh Road station and carried 6 million passengers that year. It's instant success made Pakistan Railways a significant profit in its first year of operation. In 1970, KCR was expanded further east to Landhi Junction station while new track was extended westwards, thus opening Karachi Port Trust Halt station and Wazir Mansion station in 1970. Throughout the 1970s, track was further extended westwards and northwards towards North Nazimabad, forming a "loop line" which circled around several of Karachi's residential and industrial areas. At its peak, KCR ran 104 daily trains, of which 80 trains ran on the main line, while the remaining 24 trains ran on the loop line. During the 1990s, private transporters of Karachi contracted KCR staff and indulged in corruption. By 1994, KCR was in incurring major losses due to mismanagement. As a result, the vast majority of trains were discontinued with only a few running on the loop. By 1999, KCR operations had been discontinued. The official reason for the discontinuation was that the Pakistan Railways was said to be making a loss by running the trains all over the city with few passengers taking advantage of the facility. Another version suggests that private transporters conspired with some corrupt staffers in the railways to fulfill their desire to bag the bulk of passengers for themselves The result caused instant gridlock on Karachi's streets. Severe criticisms were lodged at Pakistan Railways mismanagement as well as Karachi's "road transport mafia". In 2005, revival plans for the KCR were initiated to fulfill the growing transportation needs of Karachi, but never fully materialized. In 2009, the Karachi Urban Transport Corporation was proposed  in which KCR would be operated as a semi-autonomous body. Pakistan Railways would have 60% share in the corporation, Sindh government 25% and Karachi 15%.
In August 2012, JICA agreed to a ₨260 billion (US$1.8 billion) loan to the Karachi Urban Transport Corporation, which would oversee the rebuilding and refurbishment of KCR. The plans called for upgrades and rebuilding of the 50 kilometer long circular loop line which would operate 24 trains facilitating 700,000 commuters, making 3-minute stops at 23 stations. However, this plan never materialized. In 2016, the Minister of Railways announced that Pakistan Railways would require KCR property and that Railways’ land being allotted for other purposes under a set policy and its violation would not be allowed. Both the Government of Sindh and Pakistan Railways formed a working group to fulfill the legal requirements to hand over administrative control of the Karachi Urban Transport Corporation (KUTC) and right of way tracks of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) to the provincial government.
Around 7650 structures, including 4653 houses, are illegally built on 67 acres out of 360-acre land required for the KCR.
The KCR will consist of a loop line from Karachi City to Drigh Road via Liaquatabad. 29 kilometres will be revived with an additional 21 kilometre dual track from Karachi City to Jinnah International Airport, allowing the KCR to connect to the Pakistan Railway main line. The KCR is expected to hold carry on average of 700,000 passengers on 246 trains daily when completed.
- Karachi City
- Karachi Cantonment
- Drigh Road > Loop line
- Drigh Colony
- Jinnah International Airport
- Malir > Malir line
- Landhi Junction
- Jummah Goth
- Bin Qasim Port
- Depot Hill
- Karachi University
- Urdu College
- North Nazimabad
- Shah Abdul Latif
- Wazir Mansion
- Karachi Port Trust Halt
A large amount of criticism has been lodged at the "revival efforts" of KCR. Countless studies and feasibility reports over the decades have yielded nothing. Several proposals were publicly announced by politicians both in the Government of Sindh and Government of Pakistan, all of which had approved plans and pledged funding. Yet each date passed by without any work commencing. The following is a timeline of statements made by several politicians over the past 15 years, all of whom boldly gave start dates for the KCR project:
- 24 March 2003: Minister of Railways Ghos Bakhsh Khan Mahar stated that the revival of the KCR had been planned for which feasibility studies and tenders would be floated and awarded to the lowest bidder, adding that the KCR would be operated in the private sector. Nothing materialized after this announcement.
- 09 March 2005: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz inaugurates the first phase of the KCR and claims the project would be revived in three phases "within a couple of years or so". ₨3.5 billion (US$25 million) was pledged to be spent on the complete renovation of the KCR. None of the other two phases were ever completed and within a year, the first phase was shut down.
- 30 April 2010: Minister of Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour stated construction work would begin in 2010. Stage I and II of the project would commence simultaneously and be completed within three-years and would be open to the public by 2014. This date passed without any work commencing.
- 09 April 2012: Karachi Urban Transport Corporation Managing Director, Aijaz Hussain Khilji, stated construction work would begin in June 2013 and hoped it would be completed by June 2017. This date passed without any work commencing.
- 08 August 2012: Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator, Muhammad Hussain Syed, stated the study report for restoration of the KCR had completed and that construction would resume by September 2013. This date passed without any work commencing.
- 30 September 2017: Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah claimed the KCR project would begin on 25 December 2017 after he stated that the KCR route had been cleared of all encroachments and Pakistan Railways was on board for acquiring the 360 acres of land for the right of way. This date passed without any work commencing.
- 18 January 2018: Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah now claims that work on the KCR project will begin on 23 March 2018. He stated “I am going to give good news to the people of Karachi who need KCR in March”.
- "Karachi Circular Railway Revival, Pakistan". railway-technology.com. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "CDWP approves restoration of Karachi Circular Railway". Geo TV. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- Subohi, Afshan (15 January 2018). "Karachi Circular Railway faces derailment — again". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
- Karachi Urban Transport Corporation, Official website Retrieved on 4 October 2012
- "Karachi Circular Railway". karachirail.tripod.com. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Karachi Circular Railway System Approved by Federal Government 4 September 2009 : Article by Moid Ansari
- Karachi Circular Railway System to be revived by 2011 - APP
- KUTS come to exietence after its registration with SEC - APP
- Mass transit conundrum
- Revival of Karachi Circular Railway: ANALYSIS
- Pakistan Railway Discussion Group at Yahoo Pakistan Railway Discussion Group at Yahoo]
- A Web Site about KCR by Adnan Zafar
- KCR projected on Google Maps
- Master Plan Map of Karachi Circular Railway