RAWALPINDI: The Railway station of Rawalpindi, which is also an A-class station, is one of the oldest railway stations of the country. The station, though historic, is facing tremendous difficulties and problems currently. The absence of full proof security is one of the biggest problems of this station.
This railway station is a masterpiece of colonial-era architecture and it still reflects the status and grandeur despite the fact that it was renovated four times since its creation however its original drawing was never disturbed.
Rawalpindi station was built on September 4, 1928 after two years of construction. The first station master, Ram Kishan Lal, was deployed in 1942. The station has five platforms which were 1,800 feet long and 150 feet in wide. Some 15,000 passengers travel from these platforms every day assisted by around 150 porters or coolies at the station.
The oldest train running from Rawalpindi railway station was Tez Gam which was still running in profit.
There are 11 rail lines on the station, out of which five are passengers and seven are freight boys. The old name of the station was Ganji Pur. The first local Hindu was appointed as the train examiner in 1942. There is a separate line and mini station for the dockside.
Rawalpindi railway station to undergo renovations
The historical watch of 1804 is installed in the dockside office while the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his sister Fatimah Jinnah also visited this station. The first dockside was set up in the current office of SP railway.
There are at least 47 special saloon cars at the station, each with a distinct number for a very important person. Saloon number 74 is reserved for the prime minister, chairman of senate’s saloon number is 75, Army Chief’s salon number is 18, minister for railways gets saloon 37, IG railways gets saloon number 15, railway chairman’ saloon number is 22. Moreover the army's sword has been placed in the saloon of the army chief. That specific compartment also has the latest communication system.
Total 28 rail vehicles run from this station every day while 36 trains coming from different stations use this railway station every day. This station also holds VIP status since it is connected with Islamabad.
The least train accidents were recorded in Rawalpindi while 29 trains were inaugurated at this station. Furthermore, the Azadi Train was also inaugurated here.
The 42 departments of railways work round the clock at this station. The number of employees in Rawalpindi Division was 13,000 however it has now been reduced to 9,400 due to the financial crisis.
The office of divisional superintendent, adjoining with this station is skillfully artistic and is also historic. The British designer drew inspiration from a similar design in Mumbai, Calcutta and Nagpur.
This office also served as the office of sensitive agencies. The office of intelligence bureau is still working in half of this building.
All the prime ministers, Army Chief Aslam Beg, Pervez Musharraf and Asif Nawaz Janjua visited this station to see the ancient dance hall with wooden flooring built in the British era.
Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Qazi Hussain Ahmed also started the train march from here. Moreover it was one of the stops of Bhutto's train.
AGR Pony Gar was the first Divisional Superintendent of Railway Rawalpindi while the current DS Syed Munwar Shah served the office twice.
The number 27 Quaid-e-Azam Salon is also parked at this station which he had given to the late federal minister Mehmood Ali.
The most historically memorable reception of Benazir Bhutto was also witnessed at this station.
The first train in the world went from Liverpool to Manchester in the United Kingdom in 1830.Queen Victoria traveled a train in 1842 and won the honour of the world's first head of state to take the train.
Safety precautions: Security increased at Rawalpindi Railway Station
In the era of steam engines, the first train in Pakistan was run on May 13, 1861 for Kotri from Karachi, the construction of Karachi-Kotri railway line started in 1859 and was completed in March 1861.
Engine number 203, which was built in Germany in 1932, is installed outside the station as a symbolic representation of its culture. This engine cost some Rs41,905 and 6 anay at that time.
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed made the most visits on Rawalpindi station and also holds the record of inaugurating new trains.
The civil defense department has been locked for the security of the station.
The daughter of General Zia ul Haq, Zain Zia, also visited Chief Salon 18 to Lahore while the fuel bill was paid by General Zia ul haq. Furthermore, Benazir Bhutto also used this station while travelling to Lahore when she was 11 years old.
Only four stations, including Rawalpindi Station, of Karachi, Lahore and Multan have the status of A-class stations.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2019.
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