Lahore Islamabad Motorway
Lahore to Islamabad Motorway, also known as M2 Motorway, is a major transportation route in Pakistan, connecting the country’s two largest cities: Lahore and Islamabad. With a length of approximately 367 kilometers, the Motorway provides a fast and efficient way for travelers to move between these two urban centers. In this post, we will delve into the history of the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, its features and amenities, and how it has impacted the economic and social development of the region. Whether you are a resident of Pakistan or simply interested in learning about this vital infrastructure project, we hope you will find this post informative and engaging.
History of Islamabad – Lahore Motorway
The M-2 Motorway, which connects Rawalpindi/Islamabad to Lahore, was the first to be built in South Asia. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif conceived the idea for the Motorway during his first term in office, 1990-1993. On December 30, 1991, the contract for the Motorway’s construction was awarded to the Daewoo Group of South Korea on a design-cum-construct basis at Rs. 23,686 billion. The original agreement was for a four-lane facility, but the Motorway was eventually built as a six-lane facility. The company provided a loan of $379 million, which ultimately grew to $702 million, to cover 40% of the construction costs. The Pakistani government paid for the remaining 60%. During Sharif’s second tenure, on November 26, 1997, the M-2 was formally inaugurated. The section of the highway that travels across the Salt Range received improvements in 2006 in response to motorist complaints. Better road line marking and broader road signs for increased visibility were among them. In 2016, the workers resurfaced the M-2 Motorway for a smooth and safer drive.
When was the Lahore Islamabad Motorway Made?
The Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, also known as the M-2, was completed in 1999. It was the first Motorway of its kind in Pakistan, and its construction involved innovative techniques such as the Incremental Launching Method (ILM) and Civil3D software.
It serves as a critical transportation corridor for domestic and international travel, including as a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Motorway has had a significant impact on the economic and social development of the region, providing a fast and efficient way for travelers to move between Lahore and Islamabad and contributing to the growth of various industries and agricultural sectors along the route.
Who Made Lahore Islamabad Motorway?
The Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, also known as the M-2, was constructed by the National Highway Authority (NHA) of Pakistan. The NHA is a governmental agency responsible for building and maintaining national highways and motorways in Pakistan. In 1992, the NHA appointed SMEC, an international engineering and development firm, to carry out design reviews, contract administration, construction supervision, and quality control for the construction of the M2 Motorway.
M2 Motorway Features
It features 23 interchanges, 87 flyovers and bridges, 193 underpasses, and 101 major drainage structures. Here are some key features of the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway:
- Length: Lahore to Islamabad motorway distance is 367 kilometers, and it connects the cities of Lahore and Islamabad.
- Lane configuration: The Motorway comprises six lanes, providing fast and efficient transportation for travelers.
- Routes: The M2 begins at the Thokar Niaz Baig N5 (National Highway No. 5) junction in West Lahore and travels west toward Sheikhupura after crossing the Ravi River. The Khanqah Dogran Interchange is 36 kilometers away from the Sheikhupura Interchange. At Pindi Bhattian, the M2 intersects with the M4 junction and turns northwest. It then travels through Kallar Kahar and enters the Salt Ranges, turning north to end just west of Rawalpindi at the intersection between the Islamabad Link Road and the M1. The M2 becomes the M1 Motorway, connecting the twin cities of Lahore and Islamabad with Peshawar.
- Interchanges: There are a total of 23 interchanges. The M2 has several interchanges along its route, including the M2 Zero Point in Lahore, the Babu Sabu Interchange, the M3 Lahore-Abdul Hakeem Interchange, the Faiz Pure Interchange, the Kot Abdul Malik Interchange, the Kala Shah Kaku Interchange, the Sheikhupura Interchange, the Hiran Minar Interchange, the Khanqah Dogran Interchange, the Sukheki Interchange, the M4 Pindi Bhattian-Multan Interchange, the Pindi Bhattian Interchange, the Makhdoom Interchange, the Kot Momin Interchange, the Saalam Interchange, the Bhera Interchange, the Lilla Interchange, the Kallar Kahar Interchange, the Balkasar Interchange, the Neelah Dullah Interchange, the Chak Beli Khan Interchange, the M1 Interchange, and the M2 Zero Point in Rawalpindi.
Economic Importance of the Motorway
The Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, also known as the M-2, has significantly impacted the region’s economic development. As a major transportation route in Pakistan, it has provided a fast and efficient way for travelers to move between Lahore and Islamabad, facilitating the growth of various industries and agricultural sectors along the route. The M2 has benefited multiple industries and sectors, including significant industrial and farming areas in Pindi Bhattian, Sheikhupura, Bhera, Lilla, Kot Momin, Salem, Faisalabad, and Mandi Baha Uddin. The Motorway has also helped increase the export of goods and boost tourism, resulting in the construction of tourist resorts and new jobs. Furthermore, the Government of Punjab has plans to establish a New Economic City near the Jhelum River and a Qaid-e-Azam Apparel Park close to Sheikhupura along the M-2, further contributing to the economic development of the region. Overall, the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway has played a crucial role in transforming the pattern of transportation in Pakistan, opening up hinterland areas, and encouraging population growth.
Facilities at Islamabad to Lahore Motorway
There are several facilities available along the Islamabad to Lahore Motorway, including:
Service and rest areas: Ten service and rest areas are available on both sides of the Motorway, which offer fuel, car wash, and car-repair facilities. Fast-food restaurants, including Gloria Jean’s Coffees, McDonald’s, and KFC, are also available.
Rest areas: Several areas along the Motorway, with washroom and eating facilities.
Fuel stations: Fuel stations are located at various interchanges along the Motorway, providing convenient refueling options for travelers. There are fuel stations at five locations along the M2 Motorway called Service Areas. These are Sukheki Services Area, Kalar Kahar Services Area, Sial Services Area, Bhera Services Area, and Chakri Services Area.
These Service Areas are on both sides of the road. And are designated as “North” or “South” depending on the direction of travel. For example, Sukheki North Service Area is for travelers from Lahore to Islamabad, while Sukheki South Services Area is for travelers from Islamabad to Lahore. The average distance between any two Service Areas is 60-80 km.
Hotels and restaurants: Several hotels and restaurants are located along the Motorway, providing accommodation and dining options for travelers.
Emergency services: Emergency services such as medical assistance, police, and fire brigade are available along the Motorway for any unexpected situations.
Tolls: The Motorway operates as a tollway, with toll plazas located at various interchanges. A new M-tag system was introduced in December 2021 to pay the tolls.
Tourist Spots on the Motorway
There are several tourist spots located along the Lahore to Islamabad Motorway, including the following:
- Kallar Kahar: Located in the Salt Range, Kallar Kahar is home to several historical sites and natural attractions, including the Kallar Kahar Lake and the Kallar Kahar Wildlife Park.
- Changa Manga: Changa Manga is an artificial forest near Lahore and a popular spot for picnics and nature walks.
- Katas Raj Temple: The Katas Raj Temple is a complex of ancient temples located in the Salt Range and is considered a sacred site by Hindus.
- Hiran Minar: Hiran Minar is a historic hunting lodge and garden in Sheikhupura, which the Mughal Emperor Jahangir built.
- Faisalabad: Faisalabad, the third-largest city in Pakistan, boasts several industrial and cultural attractions, including the Faisalabad Museum and the iconic Faisalabad Clock Tower.
- Rawalpindi: Located near the end of the Lahore to Islamabad Motorway, Rawalpindi is a historic city with several cultural and historical attractions, including the Rawalpindi Cantonment and the Ayub National Park.
Important Facts about M2 Motorway
- It connects Rawalpindi/Islamabad to Lahore and is also a part of the Asian Highway AH1.
- The M2 Motorway operates as a six-lane divided carriageway with controlled access and as a tollway.
- The M2 Motorway passes through the Salt Range, a hill system in Punjab known for its rock salt deposits and unstable strata such as shale and limestone.
- The M2 Motorway is integral to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major transportation corridor connecting Pakistan to China and Central Asia.
- It has contributed to the economic development of Pakistan by facilitating the movement of people and goods, encouraging population growth, and transforming the pattern of transportation in the country.
- Major industries and agricultural sectors in the region have benefited from the M2 Motorway’s competitive transportation system, facilitating the export of goods.
- Tourism has also increased as a result of the M2 Motorway, leading to the construction of tourism resorts and creating job opportunities.
Safety & Maintenance Measures
Some safety and maintenance measures that are in place on the M2 Motorway include:
- Speed limits: Different speed limits apply for various stretches of the highway. For their safety and the protection of other road users, drivers must obey the posted speed restrictions prominently stated on signboards.
- Lane discipline: The Motorway has marked lanes, and drivers must stay in their lanes and avoid lane-hopping or sudden lane changes. It helps to reduce the risk of accidents.
- Overloading vehicles are not allowed on the Motorway as it can lead to accidents and damage to the road surface. Vehicle weight restrictions are carefully adhered to when utilizing the Motorway.
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance is carried out on the Motorway to ensure that it is in good condition and safe for use. It includes resurfacing the road surface, replacing damaged signs, and cleaning and maintaining the rest areas.
How do I pay the toll on the M2 Motorway?
Designated toll plazas along the M2 Motorway allow drivers to pay tolls in cash or with the new M-tag system introduced in December 2021.
Is the M2 Motorway well-maintained and safe?
Yes, the M2 Motorway is well-maintained and has several safety measures, including well-marked lanes, signboards, and emergency call boxes. To protect motorists, the National Highways & Motorway Police also monitor the highway.
Can I cross from one side of the M2 Motorway to the other?
Crossing from one side of the M2 Motorway to the other is not allowed. Travelers must exit the Motorway at the nearest Interchange and use an alternative route to reach their destination.
Is the M2 Motorway part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)?
Yes, the M2 Motorway is a significant part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a network of infrastructure projects that aims to connect Gwadar Port in Pakistan to China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Islamabad – Lahore Motorway has contributed significantly to the economic development of Pakistan, facilitating the transportation of goods and increasing tourism. It has also played a significant role in the modernization of the National Highway Authority (NHA) by introducing new technologies.