Before visiting Pakistan in early 2020 to prepare for the launch of the country's first metro line, Li Yutao spent a long time working on the operations of many lines in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.
As a member of the first group of teams assigned by the Guangzhou Metro Group for the operation of the new line, Li and his Chinese colleagues overcame many difficulties, including high temperatures and rudimentary working and living conditions.
The Orange Line in Lahore, also the first rail transit project in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, started operations in October 2020.
The line uses Chinese standards, design, technology and equipment, and at a lower cost than similar projects in other countries. It is run and maintained by a joint team from Norinco International, the Guangzhou Metro Group and the Pakistan DW Company.
"To ensure smooth operations, we visited stations and local workers under COVID-19 prevention and control measures," said Li, the project's operations director.
As a testament to the close collaboration between China and Pakistan, the project showcases a complete urban rail transit chain solution — from design, manufacturing, construction and operation to maintenance, he added.
Stretching 25.58 kilometers, the line mainly operates on elevated tracks, running in a north-to-south direction. It features 26 stations, 24 of which are elevated with two underground.
Since its inauguration, the line has more than surpassed its contractual requirements, displaying exceptional operating performance, Li said.
In the first eight months of this year, daily passenger flow rose by 62 percent from the same period last year, with a continuous upward trend, according to the Guangzhou Metro Group, which added that more than 100 million trips have been recorded since operations started.
Li said, "More and more people are embracing the metro as their preferred mode of transportation."
He added that in the first eight months of the year, the line's highest daily passenger volume was 229,000. The line is the first of three in the Lahore Metro's master plan, and it is expected to transport 500,000 people a day by 2025.
"As a remarkable achievement for Lahore and an exemplar project of the CPEC, the line shows the high standards used in advancing construction of the corridor by building and operating the transportation infrastructure," Li said.
Data from the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan shows that as of last year, direct investment of $25.4 billion came into the country along the CPEC, helping to create more than 236,000 jobs.
Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that total bilateral trade between China and Pakistan was $26.5 billion last year, with Chinese exports accounting for more than $23 billion.
"The inauguration of the line marked a significant milestone in the development of Lahore's urban rail transit system, making a great contribution to the local economy and quality of life," Li said.
The operating team is dedicated to delivering high-quality services, drawing on the success and expertise of metro lines in Guangzhou, he added.
"We are committed to ensuring that the line operates at a high standard, reflecting the deep commitment to the partnership between the two nations," Li said.