KARACHI: The Shalimar Express, which has been contracted out by Pakistan Railways to a private company, will arrive from Lahore at the cantonment station here on Saturday night at around 11.55pm.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is expected to welcome the train in Multan when it reaches there in the morning.
This is the second train, after the Business Express, which Pakistan Railways has contracted out to a private party under the public-private partnership arrangement.
The express trains will simultaneously leave from Karachi and Lahore at 6am daily and reach their destinations at 11.55pm the same day. Tickets of the service range from Rs2,800 for the parlour car to Rs800 for the economy class for the entire journey.
The train has stops in Khanewal, Multan, Rohri, Nawabshah and Hyderabad.
The Business Express, which initially started only with the business class with a fare of Rs5,000, has now introduced several new categories of tickets, including Rs3,500 for air-conditioned class, Rs1,800 for non-air-conditioned class with sleeper and berth and Rs1,500 with seat only.
Some 56 new carriages have arrived in the city from China, and 28 of them are currently parked at the cantonment station while the rest are still at the port. These new carriages will replace old coaches which are in a dilapidated condition.
Meanwhile, Railways Workers Union leader Manzoor Razi has expressed concern over the purchase of carriages from China and said that rather than purchasing these from overseas, these could have been manufactured at the railways’ own facilities in Lahore and Islamabad.
He also demanded that engines be purchased from the US which, although expensive, were durable and lasted longer than low-costing Chinese engines, which went out of order in no time and the money spent on these went down the drain.
He also criticised the railways for giving trains to private contractors and demanded that the trains should be operated by the PR itself.