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LAHORE: A number of passengers could not board the Rawalpindi-bound Subakkharam Express (Rail Car) at the Lahore railway station on Thursday after the authorities allegedly detached a couple of coaches in a bid to facilitate President Mamnoon Hussain and his family travelling by a saloon and their security escort .

However, the Pakistan Railways denied the reports, stating that all passengers except 13 boarded the train without any problem after they reached on time.

“A majority of the passengers boarded the train. The PR didn’t cancel any of the confirmed seat reservations. There were only 13 passengers that were left behind after they failed to reach on time,” Mr Najam Wali Khan, a spokesman for the PR, clarified while talking to Dawn.

PR says only late-comers left behind

According to sources, Mamnoon Hussain and his family were scheduled to travel by this train that was set to depart at 4:30pm for Rawalpindi from platform No 2.

“For this, the PR authorities had done special arrangements by attaching a saloon. Two engines, including a spare one for emergency purposes, were attached,” a source told this reporter.

But for a train comprising nine coaches, including four air-conditioned, only four (two each AC and economy class) were attached, he added.

He said when the passengers started reaching the railway station to catch the train, many of them were told by the staff to travel by other trains that were to depart at 6pm or later.

“I saw many passengers gathered in the office of station master after being referred by the booking staff. When they sought travelling by the train departing at 4:30pm, the station master told the staff to send them in other trains.

However, half of them were later sent through Islamabad Express and the rest through the Tezgam,” said a journalist, Mr Salik Nawaz, who was present at the station.

Talking to Dawn, PR spokesman Najam Wali Khan said the entire security of the president and his family was being supervised by the army.

“Only 13 passengers were left behind after they couldn’t catch the train due to late arrival. But even though, we got helped them board the Islamabad Express that moved from station at 6pm,” he explained.

The president was in Lahore for the last two days.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2017