Pak halts Samjhauta Express at Wagah, Indian loco pilots drive train to Attari
Citing security concerns, Pakistan on Thursday stopped Samjhauta Express — a bi-weekly train connecting Lahore and Delhi — at the Wagah railway station, following which Indian loco pilots brought the train to Attari on the Indian side.
Hundreds of passengers from both sides of the border were stuck for several hours waiting for security clearances to be completed following the disruption in the train service. Samjhauta Express runs from Lahore in Pakistan to Attari in India and vice versa, on Monday and Thursday.
The train from both Lahore and Delhi halt at Attari where Delhi-bound passengers coming from Lahore get on to an Indian train and Lahore-bound passengers board the Pakistani train that retraces its steps back to Wagah and then to Lahore. In the Attari-Lahore run, the rakes change every six months — 6 months with Indian coaches and six months with Pakistani coaches.
The train from Wagah with 117 passengers, including 48 Pakistanis, on board reached Attari at 5.10pm. It had seven passenger bogies and 10 goods carriages. Earlier, the Delhi-Attari express ferrying 60 passengers, including 10 Pakistanis, reached the railway station at 7am. These passengers also remained stranded at the Attari railway station waiting for the Samjhauta Express. They were later ferried to Wagah around 6pm.
The railway officials said the train has not been suspended. “The train has not been suspended. It will run. Pakistan authorities have raised some concerns with regards to security for crew and guard of the Samjhauta Express. We have told them the situation is normal on this side,” said Northern Railway spokesperson Deepak Kumar.
Earlier, Pakistan railway minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed tweeted: “Till I am the railway minister, Samjhauta Express service will not operate.”
“At 12.55pm, I got a massage from Pakistan railways informing that the Samjhauta staff has refused to ply the train to India due to some security reasons. I was asked to arrange loco pilots and a train engine to take the bogies to India. A locomotive engine was sent to Wagah with pilots, Uma Shankar and Meena, and a guard at 3.50pm,” said Arvind Kumar Gupta, station master of the Attari railway station.
“We were told at the Wagah railway station that the train has been delayed due to technical snag,” said Muhammad Nisar of Panipat in Haryana, who returned after meeting his relatives in Pakistan.
Another passenger Saleem from Karachi said: “Peace should prevail in both the countries. All issues should be resolved with dialogue so the common man is not harassed.”
The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for “agreement”, comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. The train service was started on July 22, 1976 under the Simla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.
Pakistani authorities briefly suspended the train service on February 28 this year following tense bilateral ties in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed.