LAHORE: Pakistan Railways (PR) on Saturday launched Lahore-Wagah shuttle train, reviving its daily operation after 22 years.

The service, which was earlier planned to begin from Dec 7, would provide hassle-free travel facility to hundreds of visitors intending to witness flag hoisting and lowering ceremony at Wagah or visiting Jallo Park.

“We want to start or revive connection of Lahore metropolitan city with its suburbs through rail routes. And Lahore-Wagah is a first step that would be followed by another train from Lahore to Raiwind within next 15 days. And in January, we will launch Lahore-Gujranwala train that would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan,” Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid said while talking to media after he inaugurated Lahore-Wagah shuttle train operation.

The train would take an hour to reach Wagah railway station by observing stoppages at Jallo and other local stations. It would complete three round trips daily and provide travelling facility to over 1,000 passengers [in three trips]. The PR refurbished three passenger coaches inscribed with outer pictures of Minar-i-Pakistan, Rangers parade at Wagah border etc. The PR has fixed a fare of Rs30 per passenger.

The minister said the core objective behind running shuttle trains was not to earn revenue but to provide hassle-free travelling to a number of people on a daily basis. “We are presently running 138 trains. And soon we will also inaugurate work on ML-1 (main line) project from Karachi to Peshawar.”

Responding to media queries on the prevailing political situation, Rashid said departure of Nawaz Sharif to London and acceptance of Asif Zardari’s bail petition is temporary. “The release of both Nawaz and Zardari is not permanent,” he added.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2019