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Is Pak serious about Thar Express?

Given the shoddy state of affairs, the resumption of the train link may not have the Pakistan Govt's backing.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2006 10:02 IST

There was much jubilation when the Thar Express chugged into India from this southeast Pakistan border town, ending a 41-year wait for divided families. But two months down the line, the euphoria has been replaced by a sense of despondency.

The Zero Point railway station in Khokhrapar, from where the train enters India's Rajasthan state, still lacks basic amenities. And given the shoddy state of affairs, some people are beginning to feel that the resumption of the train link may not have the Pakistan government's backing.

The railway station shows little evidence of any work having been undertaken for the benefit of travellers. Apart from the presence of officials from the immigration and customs departments and Pakistan Rangers personnel, there is little to show it is a hub for international travel.

The platform at the station is yet to be cemented and there are no basic amenities like washrooms, water outlets or cafeterias. The platform itself is very narrow and unlikely to cater to the growing needs of passengers on this sector.

There are no accommodation facilities for customs and immigration officials at Khokhrapar. A staff shuttle plies between Hyderabad and Zero Point every Friday and Saturday along with the incoming and outgoing trains.

This is in stark contrast to Munabao station in India that boasts of excellent facilities, including telecommunication services, for passengers.

There is a sense of foreboding among the people that things are not likely to improve any time soon. The locals in Sindh have another complaint: the train does not stop in any other station on its way to India.

Ghulam Rasool Memon, project director of Pakistan Railways said that in the last eight months six new stations had come up in Khokhrapar district. "The stations should be put to proper use," he said.

But due to security concerns, the Thar Express bypasses all these stations.

Senior officials of the Pakistan Rangers manning the India-Pakistan border said the immediate security concerns were yet to be addressed.

The Thar Express begins its journey to India from Karachi, capital of the southeastern province of Sindh, crossing Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas and Khokhrapar towns on its way to Munabao in northwest Rajasthan.

The train was revived as part of the confidence building measures undertaken by India and Pakistan. The rail link was snapped during the 1965 war. Before that, trains used to run between Mumbai and Karachi via Munabao.

First Published: Apr 23, 2006 10:02 IST