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, Sindhi: ڪراچي سرڪيولر ريلوي; abbreviated KCR) is a defunct regional public transit system in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, which served the Karachi metropolitan area between 1969 and 1999. Since 2017, restoration of the railway and restarting the system has been sought.
With its hub at Karachi City station on I. I. Chundrigar Road, KCR's revived operations would extend north to Gadap, east to Dhabeji, south to Kiamari and west to Hub. The revived KCR operation is intended to become an inter-regional public transit system in Karachi, with an aim to connect the city centre with several industrial and commercial districts within the city and 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 federal government approved a ₨27.9 billion (US$170 million) restoration package for the KCR,, however delays and disputes with the Sindh provincial government ultimately led to the cancellation of the funding.
In August 2020, the federal government approved a ₨10.5 billion (US$63 million) rehabilitation package for the KCR restoration. The funding is slated to cover only phase one and phase two of KCR's restoration project, similar to the restoration of the Karachi-Peshawar Railway Line, according to Ameer Muhammad Daudpota.
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. Its 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%.
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 Circular Railway
- Karachi City
- Karachi Cantonment
- Chanesar Halt
- 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
Around 7650 structures, including 4653 houses, are illegally built on 67 acres out of 360-acre land required for the KCR.
A large amount of criticism has been lodged at supposed "revival efforts" of the KCR. Countless studies and feasibility reports since 2001 has yielded no actual ground work. 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$21 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. JICA agreed to a ₨260 billion (US$1.6 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.
- 09 December 2016: Minister of Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique announced that Pakistan Railways would handover administrative control to the Sindh government, but would require KCR property land being allotted for other purposes to be cleared first. Nothing materialized after this announcement.
- 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”.
- 01 March 2020: Minister of Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that the Karachi Circular Railway "will be operationalized in six months" in collaboration with the government of Sindh.
- 20 August 2020: In the federal budget of fiscal year 2020–21, ₨150 billion (US$910 million) was allocated to the KCR alignment, while the Sindh provincial budget allocated ₨207 billion (US$1.2 billion).
- "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.
- 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