Home Special Report Pakistan Railways? No, it’s Punjab Railways

Pakistan Railways? No, it’s Punjab Railways

Pakistan Railways? No, it’s Punjab Railways

Almost all the trains in Sindh have been suspended since decades under a well-hatched conspiracy to deprive people of Sindh of train service and benefit the private transport mafia  

By Nasir Aijaz

“Do you think it’s Pakistan Railways? No, it’s in fact Punjab Railways,” was the instant reaction of Mr. Abdul Fattah Odhano, when I called him to know the situation following a series of appeals he posted on social media requesting Pakistan Railways authorities for restoring the train service on ML2 route that runs along right bank of Indus River.

The train service on this route, connecting Karachi, Kotri, Dadu, Larkana, Shikarpur and Jacobabad districts with Balochistan and other regions, had been suspended after the outbreak of Covid-19.

Hailing from Ratodero, district Larkana, Mr. Odhano is a government employee in Karachi, and has often to travel by road to visit his hometown.

“The federal government should replace the name of Pakistan Railways with Punjab Railways, as for over decades it is operating the trains only on ML1 (Main railway line) to facilitate the people of Punjab who used to travel by train to and from Karachi or some main cities falling on this route.”

“I have submitted dozens of appeals to the railways authorities including the federal railways minister Saad Rafiq but all in vain,” he told.

Pakistan-Railways-LarkanaNo train operates on ML2 route

Some nine trains used to operate on ML-2 route from Karachi to Quetta and Peshawar in the past that include Bolan Mail, Khushhal Khan Khattak Express, Mohen Jo Daro Express, Rail Car, Shahbaz Express, Zulfiqar Express, Qalandar Express, Shahnawaz Express and Passenger train.

“The so-called Pakistan Railways gradually stopped operating all the trains except one – Bolan Mail, which also was suspended with outbreak of Covid-19 like other train services across the country on ML1 route,” Odhano said. “After certain time, the train service was restored on main line from Karachi to up country but surprisingly, the Bolan Mail kept suspended,” he added.

Abdul Fattah Odhano told Sindh Courier that he submitted several applications to the railways authorities with no response. “Finally, I lodged complaint with Federal Ombudsman office in Karachi, where a railway official assured the Senior Advisor that the Pakistan Railways have fixed the tendering process for outsourcing the Bolan Mail on November 3, 2021 and its restoration is expected soon as the process is completed. The official further stated that the Pakistan Railways will also consider outsourcing Khushhal Khan Khattak Express after success of Bolan Mail,” he said lamenting that none of these two trains were restored in violation of Ombudsman office instructions.

Special Trains for Pilgrims

At sometimes, the railway authorities gave different excuses for not restoring the train service on ML2 route, and one of such excuses was that the railway track was not in proper condition to operate trains. But, surprisingly, three special trains were operated from Punjab to Sehwan for the pilgrims on the occasion of 3-day annual Urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in April 2023.

“If the track was in bad condition, how they operated special trains from Punjab to Sehwan to facilitate the pilgrims of that province,” Odhano said and shared the copy of his application submitted to Chairman and Secretary of Pakistan Railways on June 22 this year raising questions on their biased attitude.

He said, the people of Dadu and other cities falling on ML2 route staged protest demonstration against Pakistan Railways demanding restoration of train service, after which Divisional Superintendent, PR, Sukkur visited different cities in a special train and conducted interviews of general public, but so far no action has been taken.

Odhano said the Federal Ombudsman office has issued notices to Pakistan Railways authorities including Railways Minister Saad Rafiq.

Pakistan Railways-2Suspension of train service causing road accidents                     

Fayaz Hussain Memon, Basit Bhutto and Ahmed Ali, of Larkana district, doing jobs and business in Karachi also expressed same views. They accused that suspension of train service on ML2 route and other routes of Sindh was part of a well-hatched conspiracy to facilitate the private transporters plying trucks, trailers and other heavy vehicles from Karachi to up country and even upto Afghan border. “This has overburdened the highways of Sindh where the fatal road accidents are a routine. “Hundreds of passengers have lost their lives only on Indus Highway due to accidents.”

“Previously, majority of passengers used to travel by trains in Sindh. It can be verified from the old record that the number of road accidents was negligible in the past, as the roads were free from heavy traffic and almost entire cargo was also transported through cargo trains,” they said.

According to them, the Larkana railway station was a junction, where the government of Ms. Benazir Bhutto had approved a Dry Port. “You must visit the Larkana station where the building constructed for Dry Port has never been utilized for the purpose it was built, and is under the occupation of cattle owners who have turned it into ‘cattle den’.

“Besides safe mode of transport, the train fare was cheaper than buses, coaches and vans, and that’s why people preferred to travel by train but now they are deprived of this facility,’ they said.

“The railway authorities have caused great loss to the trade and business of Larkana, which is not only the divisional headquarter but the business hub of upper Sindh,” they lamented.

pakistan railwaysTrains suspended since decades

Meanwhile, sources in Pakistan Railways in Karachi gave details of various trains stopped operating by the federal railway authorities.

The suspended trains are:

3Up 4DownBolan Mail Karachi to Quetta via Kotri, Dadu, Larkana,  Jacobabad, Sibi and Quetta; 19up 20dn Khushhal Khan Khattack Express, Karachi via Larkana, Jacobabad, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Mianwali,  Attock and Peshawar; Moen jo Daro Express, Railcar, Shahbaz Express, Zulfiqar Express, Shahnawaz Express, Qalandar Expres. Passenger train (Rohri to Dadu).

The Karachi to Badin train is suspended since 20 years while the train service for Larkana, Qamber Ali Khan, Shahdadkot, Usta Muhammad and Jacobabad remains suspended since 35 years.

The loop line connecting Tando Adam of Main Line (ML1) to Padidan (also on ML1) via Hala, Saeedabad, Sakrand, Daulatpur, Shahpur Jahanian, Moro, Tharoo Shah and Naushehro Feroze was suspended 40 years ago.

Rail car which operated between Jacobabad and Karachi via Larkana was suspended in 1978. Zulfiqar Express (Peshwar-Karachi via Rohri-Larkana) was suspended in 1990.

Rally against Pakistan Railways

3up 4dn Bolan Mail between Karachi Larkana Jacobabad Sibi Quetta suspended on 31 Dec. 2021. Moen Jo Daro Express (Jacobabad to Karachi) suspended in 1995. Shahbaz Express between Rohri and Kotri via Larkana and Dadu suspended in 1995. Shahnawaz Express operating between Larkana and Kotri suspended in 1995. Passenger train between Rohri via Larkana to Dadu was suspended in 1995.

Abbasin Express between Rawalpindi and Quetta via DG Khan, Jacobabad, Sibi and Quetta suspended in 1995. Khushhal Khan Khattak Express operating between Peshawar and Karachi via Attock, DG Khan, Jacobabad, Larkana and Dadu was suspended in 2019. Chilton Express operating between Lahore to Quetta via Multan, DG Khan, Jacobabad, and Sibi and a passenger train from Multan to Jacobabad (Shuttle) was suspended since 10 years.

Thar Express from Karachi to Khokhrapar connecting the country with India also remains suspended due to so-called security reason but Samjhota Express continues operating from Lahore to Delhi.

Sindh Express train that used to run from Karachi via Hyderabad, Nawabash, Khairpur, Rohri, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Sibi and Quetta was suspended in 1993. Similarly, train service in Tharparkar was suspended since the creation of Pakistan.

The Pakistan Railways authorities abandoned a large network of trains, railway tracks and stations, which were built by the British rulers and maintained it well till they quit the subcontinent. The result is that railway tracks of entire network are destroyed, railway station buildings have collapsed or are in a very dilapidated condition, all the installations are destroyed and railway lands illegally occupied by the people.

A Clear Discrimination           

“The destruction of railway network is nothing but a planned conspiracy to hinder the development in Sindh and deprive the people of this province of benefits of railways system, which in fact is the best system of transport around the world. This is a clear discrimination by the federal government,” Abdul Fattah Odhano said, who continues to strive for restoration of railway system in Sindh.

He blamed all the successive Federal Railway Ministers, Secretary, Railways Board Islamabad, CEO Pakistan Railways Board Headquarters Lahore and Divisional Superintendents of Railway in Sindh of receiving kickbacks from private transport mafia and depriving the people of Sindh of safe mode of journey.



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