Despite Pakistan's suspension Thar Express operating on schedule: Railway

ANI New Delhi, India Aug 10, 2019, 06.13 PM(IST)

File photo of Thar Link Express.  Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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A Railways official told ANI that the train, with 165 passengers including 84 Pakistanis on board, was undergoing customs check at Munabao railway station, the last station in India on the route, and later crossed the border for Zero Point, the last railway station on the Pakistani side.

Despite Pakistan's announcement of suspension of Thar Express, the train, which plies every week between Jodhpur and Karachi, is running as per schedule on both sides of the international border on Saturday.

A Railways official told ANI that the train, with 165 passengers including 84 Pakistanis on board, was undergoing customs check at Munabao railway station, the last station in India on the route, and later crossed the border for Zero Point, the last railway station on the Pakistani side.

"The train embarked on its journey at 1 am from Jodhpur and reached Munabao railway station at 6:55 am. It is going through the customs check and will depart for Zero Point. Operations are running normal," CPRO North Western Railway told ANI.

In India, the train originates at Bhagat Ki Kothi railway station in Jodhpur and goes up to Zero Point railway station near the border in Pakistan after undergoing mandatory customs check at Munabao railway station.

In Pakistan, it starts at Karachi Cantonment railway station and stops at Zero Point railway station where passengers undergo customs check. Passengers from both sides change trains, that is, those travelling to Pakistan board a Karachi-bound train while those travelling to India take a Jodhpur-bound train.

The future of the train seems to be in limbo as Pakistan on Friday announced to stop the weekly train after the government scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan has also suspended the operation of Samjhauta Express, which runs between Delhi and Attari in India and Lahore in Pakistan since 1976 after the Simla Accord between the two countries.

According to DND News Agency, Pakistan Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad announced that Thar Express will be shut down at 12:00 am (midnight) Friday while Samjhauta Express will cease to run from Saturday.

The decision to suspend the two trains is in line with Islamabad's other moves to remonstrate against Indian move, including suspending bilateral trade and downgrading of diplomatic relations.

Indian Railways on Thursday had clarified that the Samjhauta Express has not yet been suspended but Pakistan authorities refused to send their crew to India citing security concern. The train stood in the Wagah side of the border in Pakistan with around 110 passengers yesterday. An Indian engine brought the train from Wagah to Attari.

Calling its steps in Jammu and Kashmir an "entirely internal affair", India has time and again rejected Pakistan's unilateral move to downgrade diplomatic ties and asked Islamabad to review them so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved.