New Delhi: The Indian Railways is yet to decide whether to run the Samjhauta Express train on its side on Thursday and beyond, even as Pakistan suspended its services on its end, officials said here, amidst strain in ties in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack and subsequent developments.
The train is scheduled to run from Attari to Delhi at 8 pm Thursday.
The decision on whether the Indian side will run the train from Attari to Delhi — with both Pakistani and Indian passengers on board — is yet to be taken, they said.
Pakistan had Wednesday cancelled the train’s trip on the Wagah-Lahore stretch on their side, even as 27 passengers — 23 Indians and three from the neighbouring country — arrived at Attari from Delhi on an Indian rake which left the Old Delhi Railway station at 11:20 pm last night.
The Wagah station master sent a message to his Attari counterpart that the passenger and parcel train which comes to Attari station from the Pakistan side at 12.30 pm will not be coming till further notice, officials said.
Earlier in the day, a Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesman said in a statement the operations of the train had been suspended “Thursday in view of the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India.”
The biweekly train was scheduled to depart from Lahore with 16 passengers.
“Samjhauta Express will resume its operations as soon as the security situation improves between India and Pakistan,” the FO said, not giving any specific date for resuming the services.
In New Delhi, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal Wednesday said, “We have not received any instructions from authorities about any change in the running of the Samjhauta Express. We will follow all instructions given to us in this regard.”
Originally, the train offered a through service with one rake going all the way between the terminals – Delhi in India to Lahore in Pakistan. However, now a Pakistani rake stops at Attari at which point passengers have to change trains and board an Indian rake.
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 Shimla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.
From Lahore, the train departs on Monday and Thursday.
Sources said the footfall on the train, which generally records an occupancy of around 70 per cent, has fallen drastically post the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.
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