With a view to promote trade and commerce between them, India and Pakistan have decided to double the frequency of freight trains running between Wagah and Attari and in addition, introduce the service on the Munabao-Khokrapar desert rail route as well.
At the conclusion of three-day delegation level talks between senior railways officials of both sides, they also arrived at an agreement to improve passenger services on Samjhauta Express and Thar Express, the two trains plying between India and Pakistan, to improve people to people contact.
"We have agreed, in principle, to increase the frequency of freight trains on the Wagah-Attari sector to two per day in view of the expanding trade activity. At present, a single goods train runs on the route for 25 days in a month.
"Besides, we will also introduce special type of rolling stock like tank wagons and flat bed wagons for carrying containers," stated Railways Ministry’s Advisor (Traffic) Ashok Gupta.
A joint agreement to this effect was signed by Gupta and Ali Arif, Additional General Manager (Freight) of Pakistan Railways. Senior officials from the ministries of external affairs, home, finance and commerce also participated in the meet. The talks were held in pursuance of the third round of India-Pakistan composite dialogue held in Islamabad in March this year.
Taking note of the fact that passengers had to suffer considerable physical discomfort in the coaches and prolonged delays in customs clearance at the border due to excessive baggage, the two delegations took a decision to strictly enforce the luggage limit of 35 kg per passenger in the second class and 50 kg in the air conditioned class.
According to Gupta, the Indian side proposed a system of making available passenger lists of both trains in advance on a reciprocal basis to expedite customs and immigration clearance at the border stations. Pakistan’s response to the proposal would be conveyed to India later, he stated.
A significant decision taken by them was that the more such meetings would be held during the year by officials at the divisional and zonal levels to sort out the smaller operational issues instead of waiting for the annual government level talks. In fact, the Pakistanis proposed that lower level meetings should be held every month to prevent a backlog of outstanding matters.
Email HS Bartwal: firstname.lastname@example.org