Transportation in Pakistan
Transportation in Pakistan is extensive and varied but still in its developing stages. It serves a population of over 170 million people. Construction of new airports, roads, and railway provides jobs for many people.
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. It does large-scale movement of people and freight. The railway network is 8,163 kilometres (5,072 miles) long. Broad gauge is 7,718 kilometres (4,796 miles) of that. There are 293 kilometres (182 miles) of electrified track. The narrow gauge tracks form the remaining 445 kilometres (277 miles). 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 various other stations along the network. It moves 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.
The Karachi Circular Railway opened in the early 1940s. It is the only functioning metro in Pakistan.[when?] In 1976, Karachi was going to begin work on an underground metro system, but plans were put on hold. The Lahore Metro also serves from Gagu Matta to Shahadara.
- Iran — A broad gauge railway line runs from Zahedan to Quetta. 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.
- Afghanistan — Currently there is no rail link to Afghanistan since no railway network is present in that country. However, Pakistan Rail has proposed to help build an Afghani Rail Network in three phases. The first phase will stretch from the Chaman to Spin Boldak in Afghanistan. The second phase will extend the line to Kandahar. 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 27⁄32 in) gauge. It is not clear where the break-of-gauge station will be. The proposed line will also connect the port town of Gwadar via Dalbadin and Taftan, 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 4,730 metres (15,520 feet) above sea level, to the Chinese railhead at Kashgar. That is a distance of about 750 kilometres (470 miles).
- Turkey — An Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad passenger rail service was proposed recently. On 14 August 2009, a container train service was launched by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousuf Raza Gilani between Islamabad and Istanbul. The first train carried 20 Intermodal containers with a capacity of around 750 t (738 long tons; 827 short tons). It will travel 6,500 km (4,000 mi) from Islamabad, through Tehran, Iran and on to Istanbul in two weeks' time. According to the Ministry of Railways (Pakistan) Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, after the trial of the container train service, a passenger train will be launched. There are also hopes the route will eventually provide a link to Europe and Central Asia, and carry passengers.
During the 1990s, Pakistan began an ongoing project to rebuild all National Highways of Pakistan throughout the country to important financial, cargo and textile centers. The National Highway Authority (NHA) is responsible for the maintenance of all national highways in Pakistan.
- The Makran Coastal Highway follows the coast of Sindh and Balochistan provinces. It links 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 a plan to improve transport facilities in southern Balochistan.
- The Karakoram Highway is the highest paved international road in the world. It connects China with Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass.
- 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 South Asia. It runs from western Bengal, across north India, into Peshawar in Pakistan.
- The Silk Road is an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across Asia. It connects East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe. It passes through the mid section of Pakistan through the cities Peshawar, Taxila and Multan.
The construction of motorways began in the early 1990s. The idea was to build a world class road network and to reduce the load off the heavily used national highways throughout the country. The M2 motorway was the first motorway completed in 1998. It links the cities of Islamabad and Lahore. Many new motorways have opened up including the M1 motorway and M3 motorway.
- Total: 257,683 kilometres (160,117 miles)
- Paved: 152,033 kilometres (94,469 miles) (including 339 km of expressways)
- Unpaved: 105,650 kilometres (65,650 miles) (2001)
- Vehicles on road: 4.2 million vehicles 250,000 commercial vehicles (2004 estimate)
- The Central Intelligence Agency. "World Factbook - Pakistan". Retrieved 2007-06-28.
- "Govt considers railway links with central Asia".
- Associated Press of Pakistan. "PR signs deal with foreign firm for pre-feasibility study of Pakistan-China rail link". Retrieved 2007-06-28.
- "http://www.pakistantimes.net/pt/detail.php?newsId=3343". Pakistan Times. 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2009-08-15. External link in
- "Leading News Resource of Pakistan". Daily Times. Retrieved 2009-08-15.
- "Pakistan | PM launches trial phase of Pak-Turkey train service". Dawn.Com. Retrieved 2009-08-15.
- "Pakistan–Turkey rail trial starts". BBC News. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2009-08-16.