Transportation in Pakistan

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Airports and Seaports of Pakistan

Transportation in Pakistan is extensive and varied but still in its developing stages and serving a population of over 170 million people. Construction of new airports, roads, and railway are providing a massive employment boost in Pakistan.

Rail[change | edit source]

Karakoram Express departing to Lahore from Karachi Cantonment Railway Station

Domestic[change | edit source]

Rail services in Pakistan are provided by the state-run Pakistan Railways, under the supervision of the Ministry of Railways. Pakistan Railways provides an important mode of transportation in Pakistan, catering to the large-scale movement of people and freight. The railway network comprises 8,163 km[1] of which (broad gauge) forms 7,718 km including 293 km of electrified track. The narrow gauge tracks form the remaining 445 km. Pakistan Railways also operate special trains for various occasions. The Freight Business Unit with 12000 personnel operates over 200 freight stations on the railway network. The FBU serves the Port of Karachi and Port Qasim as well as in various other stations along the network and generates revenue from the movement of agricultural, industrial and imported products such as wheat, coal, fertilizer, cement, and sugar. The freight rates structure is based on market trends in road transport which is the main competitor to rail transport.

Lahore Railway Station

Metros[change | edit source]

The Karachi Circular Railway, which opened in the early 1940s, is the only functioning metro in Pakistan as of date. In 1976, Karachi was slated to begin work on an underground metro system, but plans have been put on hold since. The Lahore Metro is another proposal still in planning and is scheduled to be completed by 2020.

International[change | edit source]

  • Iran — A broad gauge railway line runs from Zahedan to Quetta, and a standard gauge line is finished from Zahedan to Kerman in central Iran, linking with the rest of the Iranian rail network. On May 18, 2007, a MOU for rail cooperation was signed by Pakistan and Iran under which the line will be completed by December 2008. Now that the rail systems are linked up at Zahedan, there is a break-of-gauge between the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways standard gauge tracks and Pakistan Railways broad gauge.[2]
  • Afghanistan — Currently there is no rail link to Transport in Afghanistan since no railway network is present in that country, however Pakistan Rail has proposed to help build a Afghani Rail Network in three phases. The first phase will stretch from the Chaman to Spin Boldak in Afghanistan. The second phase will extend line to Kandahar and the third phase will eventually connect to Herat. From there, the line will be extended to Khushka, Turkmenistan. The final phase would link 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) gauge with Central Asian 1,520 mm (4 ft 11+78 in) gauge. It is not clear where the break-of-gauge station will be.[3] The proposed line will also be connected the port town of Gwadar via Dalbadin and Taftan, thus connecting the port town to Central Asia.
  • China — There is no link with China. However, on February 28, 2007 contracts were awarded for feasibility studies on a proposed line from Havelian via the Khunjerab pass at 4730 m above sea level, to the Chinese railhead at Kashgar, a distance of about 750 km.[4]
  • Turkey — A proposed Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad passenger rail service was proposed recently.[5]. Meanwhile a container train service was launched by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousuf Raza Gilani between Islamabad and Istanbul on 14 August 2009. The first train carried 20 Intermodal container with a capacity of around 750 t (738 long tons; 827 short tons)[6] and will travel 6,500 km (4,000 mi) from Islamabad, through Tehran, Iran and on to Istanbul in two weeks' time.[7] According to the Ministry of Railways (Pakistan) Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, after the trial of the container train service, a passenger train will be launched.[8] There are also hopes the route will eventually provide a link to Europe and Central Asia, and carry passengers.[9]

Road[change | edit source]

A busy intersection in Karachi, showing a variety of transport means

National Highways[change | edit source]

During the 1990s, Pakistan began an ongoing project to rebuild all National Highways of Pakistan throughout the country specifically to important financial, cargo and textile centers. The National Highway Authority or NHA is responsible for the maintenance of all national highways in Pakistan.

  • The Makran Coastal Highway follows the coast of Sindh and Balochistan provinces, linking the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar. Journey time has been reduced to six or seven hours with the construction of the new Coastal Highway. The highway was built as part of an overall plan to improve transport facilities in southern Balochistan.
  • The Grand Trunk Road (commonly abbreviated to GT Road) is one of South Asia's oldest and longest major roads. For several centuries, it has linked the eastern and western regions of the South Asia, running from western Bengal, across north India, into Peshawar in Pakistan.
  • The Silk Road is an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe. It passes through the mid section of Pakistan through cities: Peshawar, Taxila and Multan.

Motorways[change | edit source]

The construction of motorways began in the early 1990s with the idea building a world class road network and to reduce the load off the heavily used national highways throughout the country. The M2 motorway (Pakistan) was the first motorway completed in 1998, linking the cities of Islamabad and Lahore. In the past 5 years, many new motorways have opened up including the M1 motorway (Pakistan), M3 motorway (Pakistan).

  • Total: 257,683 km
    • Paved: 152,033 km (including 339 km of expressways)
    • Unpaved: 105,650 km (2001)
    • Vehicles on road: 4.2 million vehicles 250,000 commercial vehicles (2004 estimate)

References[change | edit source]