Railways to shut Karachi-Lahore Shalimar Express

Passengers raise concerns in absence of similar alternative


BILAL GHAURI July 05, 2020
PHOTO: EXPRESS/File

LAHORE:

The railways administration has decided to shut down the Shalimar Express train that goes between Karachi and Lahore via Faislabad from July 15. Instead, the train from Mohenjo Daro to Sehwan, Karachi will be restored via the ML2 track.

The decision has raised concerns among passengers and the business community, who requested Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed to not take this step.

Concerns arose as there are no major trains that leave in early hours of the day and cross through Lahore, Faislabad, Multan, Lodhran, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Nawabshah, Hyderabad and Karachi.

Currently, the Shalimar Express departs from both Lahore and Karachi at 6am and crosses through the above mentioned areas till it reaches its destination at the other city by midnight. All day long passengers - travelling for personal or commercial purposes - from the larger and smaller cities hop on board the train. As the train leaves early, it completes the 18-hour journey during the same day.

Meanwhile, the railways department has prepared a report for the closure of the Shalimar Express Train, which will cause the department to incur financial losses even as most other trains on the railways network run at the current financial deficit.

The railways department has come under much scrutiny given frequent accidents and incidents of fire breaking out, resulting in loss to both life and property. On June 3, at least 20 Sikh pilgrims died and several others were injured in a collision between a train and a coaster near Sheikhupura.

A National Assembly standing committee was recently told that there have been 384 train accidents in Pakistan since 2014: 74 in 2018-19, 67 in 2017-18, 78 in 2016-17, 76 in 2015-16, and 89 accidents in 2014-15.

The Pakistan Railways have also seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.

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