Pakistan Railways has a special shock for its passengers on the festive occasion of Eid. The state-run organisation will not be running any special train this year.
A visit to the railway station, four days before Eid, revealed that people would be deprived of the most convenient mode of travelling to southern parts of the country. Railway authorities, however, said that they have arranged four special trains from other cities on Eidul Fitr for the convenience of the travellers; two from Karachi and one each from Quetta and Peshawar.
On Wednesday, a good number of people were found waiting for the Awam Express since nine in the morning to leave for Karachi and other cities in the country. Frustration on the faces of scores waiting for the train depicted what the situation was going to be like in the coming days.
“It is evident that the people would face enormous problems on the Eid days in the absence of any special arrangements,” said Muhammad Shabbir, who was waiting for the train to leave for Karachi.
The young man said that the long journey to Karachi is more comfortable in trains, which have more facilities, such as toilets and restaurants.
The influx of the passengers increases manifold on special occasions as an overwhelming majority of the people living in the twin cities hail from other districts of the country. Special arrangements are usually made on Eid at Rawalpindi Railway Station but this year primarily owing to the shortage of functional locomotives that has even led to closure of running of many trains, said an official at railway station on condition of anonymity.
The official said there are not more than 60 functional locomotives with the department for the entire country and the problem could only be solved through purchasing of new engines.
Chief Controller Railway Station Malik Asmatullah said Pakistan Railways had announced to run four special trains on Eid.
Giving details of the schedule of the special trains, Malik said the first train left from Karachi for Peshawar on Saturday. The second train will leave Karachi for Lahore via Faisalabad on August 28.
The chief controller said that the third train would leave Quetta for Rawalpindi on August 28 and the fourth train would depart for Lahore from Peshawar on August 29.
Speaking about the “stranded passengers” of the garrison city, the chief controller said that the train from Peshawar to Lahore would pass through Rawalpindi with 10 coaches to accommodate additional passengers.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2011.