Pak Business Express Train - good, but far from great

In terms of providing the ideal train travel experience, the Pak Business Train is not quite there yet.

Komal Ali July 01, 2012
Recently, I travelled through the Pak Business Express train that runs between Karachi and Lahore and is a comparatively new venture within the railway scene of Pakistan. Don't cringe yet; this was all before the recent protests where passenger trains were set on fire and before Pakistan Railways temporarily suspended services of trains travelling from Lahore to Rawalpindi.

I was accompanied by over 70 people, all headed to Islamabad via Lahore to attend the reunion of YES students. Our tickets were pre-funded and averaged Rs10,oo0 per person for a round trip. I remember receiving the tickets and being in the doldrums at the thought of spending 18 hours in the train, but to my surprise the train ride wasn’t all that bad.

However despite LCD equipped and air-conditioned cabins, Pak Business Express still has a long way to go before it can pull off the ‘World Class Lahore to Karachi Travelling’ tagline.

First of all, the administration needs to focus on punctuality. The departure from Karachi was three hours late and the departure from Lahore was delayed by an hour and a half. The wait in Karachi was still bearable because the air conditioners worked and the abundance of courteous staff made sure to serve everyone tea and refreshments. However, waiting for the train in Lahore was nothing short of excruciating; the so-called cafeteria didn’t have chilled water or drinks and the air-conditioners refused to work in the scorching heat of Lahore.

I suggest that if the train is expected to be late, passengers must be informed in advance - especially if the administration continues to keep the air-conditioners and cafeterias only for decoration purposes.

On the way to Lahore, the train was comparatively neat; the bedding looked dry-cleaned and the berths didn’t stink. Food was served hot and in bulk– it didn't taste too bad either! I believe that a tad bit of manipulation in the breakfast menu could have really made a positive difference. Toasted bread would have been nicer, for example, than the untoasted slices we received. The parathas that we received were cold and chewy. Maybe a bun akin to the one served by PIA would be a more economical and tasty option.

The air-conditioning, though, made it increasingly cold at night when even multiple blankets failed to help the shivering passengers in my cabin. When we asked the staff to turn the air-conditioning down, first they didn’t respond clearly and on being asked again, we were told that nothing could be done about it because the technicians were asleep!

Furthermore, a whole lot of excessive food was dumped right off the train when it could have fed so may people at the Rohri or Khanewaal station– I could only cringe at this blatant display of unethical business practice.

Coming back from Lahore turned into a nightmare right after we boarded the train– five of our cabins were double booked and the staff wasn’t accommodating at all. Though we retained four of our double booked cabins, the journey back to Karachi was still not pleasant. The bedding was stained and smelly, the cabins weren't clean, the door knob of our cabin was broken, the food was cold and tasted awful, the internet didn’t work, and the staff was indifferent to our concerns.

As wonderful as the idea of this business express train between Lahore and Karachi is, it’s very important to keep up its quality for its successful running and a revival in Pakistan’s railway scene. Even slight negligence from the administration and flaws in services could really upset the passengers because people are already quite discontented with the Pakistani railway system.

While I would recommend that everyone give this new project a shot despite its glitches, I also suggest that the administration of the Pak Business Express train should take notice of its shortcomings.

Read more by Komal Ali here. 
WRITTEN BY:
Komal Ali Born and raised in Pakistan, Komal Ali is an International Relations major and Law and Public Policy nexus minor at Mount Holyoke College. She is currently doing a Pre-Law certificate at University of Amsterdam. She tweets at @komalali92 (https://twitter.com/Komalali92)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

COMMENTS (39)

RAJA GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN ADOWALLIYA PRESS ESSAY WRITER & SOCIAL WORKER | 8 years ago | Reply To The Honourable Prime Minister Of Pakistan, PM SECTT, ISLAMABAD R/Sir, The corrupted officers of Pakistan Railways have given a great financial lopsses to our government of Pakistan . Now most of the passengers are become so dishearted that they prefer to travel from buses or from PIA Flight . R/Sir, Recently, The Pakistan Railway has introduced a new train name BUSINESS EXPRES but I think that it is no any assurance from the chairman railway that this train would be provided agood service for the passengers.I have traveled many Nos of times to travel in AC Sleeper compartment of KARACHI EXPRESS, KHYBERMAIL, TEZGAM TRAINS FROM KARACHI TO RAWALPINDI and vice versa but I did not find any good service in such trains..MY COMPLAINTS ARE THE FOLLOWING 1)- BAD SMELT MEALS are being served to the passengers in broken plates and utensils. The standard of meals are of such types that even DOGS dont like to eat such meals. 2)- Fake and poisonous averages are being sold to passengers.It means that railway officers want to kill the passengers 3)- It is openly stated by all caterer contractors that Chairman Railway, Divisional Superintendents and Commercial officers are receiving BHUTTA million of Rupees from the caterter contractors- 4)- There is someoften no water in the toilets 5)-There is not existed any Complaint Register in the compartment gaurd, caterer contractors etc 6) if any complaint about unsatisfactory service are being made to chairman pakistan railway, then no any action are being made upon passengers complaints. 7)- the rates of cancellation charges are very high . It should be 10% just 12 hours before departure of trains just like PIA RULES AND REGULATIONS. 8)- Most passengers of Lahore, karachi like to travel by PIA Flight by paying only Rupees 7000/- in the night couch and 9000 in the day times flight. or to travel in DAEWOO BUS LUXURY SERVICE. 9)- Hence it is the main reason that most persons dont like to travel from Business Express. 10)- There is only one solution of redressing of such complaints . a)- No any officer of pakistan railways should be remained for more than one year on the same post.After one year , all officers should be transfered to any other post in theothers govt offices. b) There should set up one special complaint cell in the PM Sectt in which ,all passengers complaints should be received through emails for takinf prompt action against corrupted railway officers by termination of their services. d)- The best solution to improve the department of railways is that this department should be handed over to pakistan army for ten years. only strict administration of army control can set right the department of pakistan railway in properly and improved position and can earn the good profitable services 11- In views of the abovementioned facts, I am of the opinion that pakistan railways sytem can not be improved by immediately termination of services of Chairman, Divisional superintendents and others corrupted staff of the railways.If such position is prevailed in future, then corrupted officers will give a great financial losses to the govt of Pakiostan hence termination of services of the top responsible officers is a must in order to made the Pakistan Railway a profitable department I hope that Prime Minister of Pakistan will surely act on my suggestion in order to set right the most worst working system of Pakistanb railways. Thanking you in anticipation RAJA GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN ADOWALIYA MA (Political Sc ience ) PRESS ESSAY WRITER HOUSE NO -5, STREET NO-10, IQBAL TOWN, RAWALPINDI,
umer | 8 years ago | Reply Well Done... this article attracted attention of Mr. Shafqat Ali.. KUDOS!
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