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Pakistan railways partially resumes train service after a loss of Rs. 10 billion

Pakistan Railways has decided to partially resume train service after facing a loss of Rs. 10 billion in two months as a result of the lockdown. However, health experts in Pakistan have warned against the inter-province travel to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Pakistan railways partially resumes train service across the country from today (Wednesday) to facilitate passengers during Eid-ul-Fitr. All precautionary measures have been taken at railway stations. Furthermore, the administration has announced that tickets can only be booked online.

On May 18, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed had said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced to restore train operations in the country from May 20 (today).

According to the sources, the lockdown caused the railways a loss of Rs10 billion in two months while 10.26 million passengers were affected by the measure, making achieving the annual financial target of Rs58 billion a far-fetched dream.

After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s approval, limited train operations will resume from today under which 30 up and down trains will run between the four provinces.

Rasheed also announced that seven railway hospitals will also be dedicated to treating coronavirus patients, including a 50-bed quarantine established inside a train and railway hospital with the capacity of accommodating 450 patients in Rawalpindi.

He said that they started 20 trains before the lockdown, adding that the passengers would have been stranded in Karachi if they had not run 40 trains before the lockdown. “More than 16,500 passengers traveled in trains in the last two days before the lockdown,” the minister said. “Our situation is far better than India where many passengers died due to hunger on railway stations because of lockdown,” he added.

Read More: Pakistan Railways to resume train services. Isn’t it a risky decision?

As Pakistan railways partially resumes train service, the minister had assured that the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) would be fully practiced in the train operations, adding that the resumption of PR operations is important in order to facilitate the passengers on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr.

Details of trains

As per details, the first train departed from Lahore to Rawalpindi. Pakistan Express left from Rawalpindi to Karachi and Railcar to Lahore from Rawalpindi. Subak Kharam departed from Lahore to Rawalpindi.

Karakorum Express will leave Lahore for Karachi at 3 pm today, while Pak Business Express will depart for Karachi from Lahore at 4.30 pm today. Shah Hussain Express will leave for Karachi from Lahore at 7 pm today.

Read More: Sheikh Rasheed takes a U-turn on railways

According to the schedule Awam Express has left for Peshawar from Karachi, while three trains will be operated from Peshawar cant Station today.

Schedules of Tezgam Express, Pak Business Class, Jaffar Express, Awam Express, Millat Express and other up and down trains have also been issued.

Railway minister meets Japanese Ambassador

The railways’ minister and Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan Matsuda Kuninori held a meeting at the railways’ ministry on Tuesday.

Ambassador Kuninori expressed the desire of his country’s railway companies to invest in Pakistan Railways. Rashid welcomed the Japanese railway companies’ offer to invest in the Pakistan Railways, saying it will not only help modernise the system but also improve the services of the department.

“Japan Railways is one of the best in the world and their partnership with Pakistan Railways will prove beneficial,” the railways’ minister said. “These firms will provide technical support and railway safety assistance,” Kuninori added.

Pakistan needs to be careful?

It is worth noting that the Pakistan International Airlines decided to partially restore international flights from April 4 from the New Islamabad International Airport. Resultantly, Government of Punjab’s Health Ministry announced that two pilots working for Pakistan’s national carrier, PIA have tested positive for novel coronavirus. According to details, both Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots were screened after flying special flights to Canada with Pakistani origin Canadian nationals.

Read More: Sheikh Rashid claims next few months to be critical for Pakistan

The results of the screening came out positive and both pilots were declared infected. The pilots were stuck in Canada for a few days with five others and were unable to fly back to Pakistan amidst the suspension of global airspace due to the global pandemic.

Analysts believe that the railway minister should be careful while taking any decision as the situation in Pakistan may turn from bad to worse. The situation in America and Europe is already deteriorating as the health system in many developed states has collapsed. Therefore, Pakistan needs to take any step after careful deliberation.

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