KARACHI: In order to deal with the extra rush in the days leading to Eidul Fitr, Pakistan Railways has announced 11 Eid special trains.
The first of these trains comprising 14 economy-class coaches departed from the City railway station at 8pm on Friday.
As things were sedate and unhurried at the city station, they were rushed and chaotic at the Cantonment railway station where in their hurry people forgot all about the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) despite the railways staffs’ constant reminders to them to pull up their masks. The train was to stop at the Cantt station for 10 minutes, hence the dash.
Earlier, at the City station, a stall-owner, Noorullah, blamed uncertainty for the lack of people there. “There were all these rumours about trains not running during lockdown so people just didn’t make plans to travel anywhere,” he said. “Even I did not stock as I wasn’t expecting customers. But now I expect a better turnout at the station thanks to the special trains,” he smiled.
A man travelling with his family boarding the train from the City station said that he was traveling to Sukkur for which he paid Rs1,000 for each ticket.
Responding to a question if they were afraid to travel in these times of pandemic scare, especially in the third wave of Covid-19, one of them shrugged and said that they were originally from Sukkur so they had to go back home for Eid. “And when we made plans to travel, other family members from Karachi also decided to join us. As for the pandemic, well, God has kept us safe till now, so he will hopefully protect us in future as well.”
At the Cantt station, Ramazan Ali, totally rubbished the idea of SOPs as he and his family gathered their luggage before boarding the train. “Look, don’t bring up the virus story in front of me. It is nothing. Actually, it is just a way of scaring poor people like us. Coronavirus is a global conspiracy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Railways restricted the booking of passengers for the first Eid train to 696 passengers despite having a capacity of 906 on the train.
According to PR schedule, the first four trains were to depart from Karachi on May 7, 8, 9 and 10, respectively, at 8pm. Making stops at Landhi, Nawabshah, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Multan Cantonment, Sahiwal, Okara and Raiwind, the trains will reach their last stop Lahore at around 4pm the next day.
Similarly, and simultaneously, there will be five Eid Special Trains also leaving from Lahore, one each on May 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 at the same time of 6pm. The stops from Lahore include Raiwaind, Okara, Sahiwal, Khanewal, Multan Cantonment, Bahawalpur, Khanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Rohri, Nawabshah, Hyderabad, Landhi and Karachi Cantonment to reach the City Station at 4pm the next day.
The 10th Eid Special Train, will depart from the City Station in Karachi at 8pm on May 11 to reach its last stop Rawalpindi the next evening at 9.45pm. It will make stops at Karachi Cantonment, Landhi, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Rohri, RahimYar Khan, Khanpur, Multan Cantonment, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Okara, Rawind, Lahore, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Gujrat, Lalamusa and Jehlum.
The last Eid Train will also depart from City Station Karachi at 8pm on May 12 to reach Multan Cantonment at 11.15am as it will make fewer stops.
Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2021