DERA GHAZI KHAN: Once a very busy railway track connecting all four provinces of the country, the DG Khan railway station wears a deserted look these days. Now only one train, Khushhal Khan Khattak Express, stops at the station and the Quetta-bound passengers have been left at the mercy of the so-called transport mafia.
Transportation of fresh fruits from the city has also come to an end because the freight train service is no longer available from Dera Ghazi Khan. Ironically, the lawmakers from the area have never raised the issue in national or the provincial assembly. Hundreds of people have lost their jobs because of the suspension of train service from the city. Moreover, there are security threats as well. The Rajanpur track has been the target of many bomb blasts in the recent past. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that there is no security guard at DG Khan railway station. According to a signboard displayed at the railway station building CCTV cameras were installed and active but the fact is that no cameras have been installed.
A brief history
The DG Khan railway station was built in 1969. The railway track was completed in a short period of two years and was made functional in 1971. In the beginning, the railway station connected DG Khan and Kot Addu with a passenger train. However, afterwards Multan and Jacobabad were also connected through rail links with this station. The then railways minister Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi extended the tracks to district Kashmore, Sindh. During 1971 war, the route was titled as ‘Defence Line’. In 1985, a train called Ghazala, which was later renamed as Chiltan Express, connected Quetta and DG Khan.
Since DG Khan is a divisional headquarters, it connects the people of Rajanpur, Layyah, district DG Khan, Loralai and Barkhan. Most of the residents of these areas preferred to use this railway station while going on different other routes. Former premier Yousaf Raza Gillani set a quota for DG Khan to facilitate the residents of South Punjab.
Chiltan Express linked Lahore and Quetta through DG Khan while another train Khushhal Khan Khattak Express linked Peshawar, Kotri, Larkana, Jacobabad, Mianwali and Attock. There was another train called Abaseen Express which used DG Khan as one of its stations. According to the sources, there were around 500 people associated with these train services running from this city and worked at the railway stations of Shadan Lund, DG Khan and Kot Chutta. The suspension of these trains has also deprived thousands of local people of the opportunity to travel to Quetta through railways.
Now this railway station is in ruins with. It is evident from shabby and deteriorating condition of the railway station that there is no one to look after it. The facilities for passengers like washrooms, waiting rooms and potable water are all missing. Most of the passengers complain about locked waiting rooms. Also the canteen remains closed most of the time.
This railway station can play an important role in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Freight trains can be used to transport construction materials such as stones and gravel to be used in CPEC project. Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Muhammad Ilyas and other office bearers have demanded of the authorities to revive the railways station on modern lines. They said a railway bridge also be constructed along the Ghazi Ghat bridge and the station be linked to the Muzaffargarh railway line.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2017.