KARACHI-Pakistan Railways (PR) on Sunday restored its operations from Karachi as the Peshawar-bound Rehman Baba Express left Karachi Cantt Station with 1500 passengers on board. The train left for Peshawar from Karachi at 10:15am. According to the railways’ authorities, 1,200 passengers booked their computerized tickets and 300 passengers bought their tickets from the station. Pakistan Railways had decided to restore passenger trains to Karachi from October 2, more than a month after being suspended on August 26 following super floods in Sindh province.

“From October 05, Karakoram, Karachi Express, and Business Express will be run between Karachi and Lahore,” he said, adding that the decision was taken in a meeting headed by Railways Minister Saad Rafique. The spokesman said that the duration for Karachi-Lahore travel has been set at 22 hours and more coaches will be added to the trains. The travel duration will be reviewed after 30 days and will be reduced gradually.

Their departure will mark gradual restoration of rail link of country’s south with north, which had been disconnected due to the devastation caused by monsoon rains and flash floods in recent months. While several areas of Khairpur, Dadu, Sehwan, Jamshoro, Badin, Tando Jam Mohammad and Juddo in Sindh are still inundated, a meeting presided over by federal Minister for Railways Khwaja Saad Rafique decided to gradually restore train services after reviewing reports on receding floodwaters from tracks and necessary repairs.

The operations were suspended at various sections after the flash floods washed away the tracks between Rohri-Tando Adam, Paddidan-Bhiria, Daur-Bandhi and Bocheri-Nawabshah sections and Nawabshah yard on Aug 21. Similarly, the Sibbi-Quetta and Dalbandin-Quetta, Kotri-Dadu near Sehwan Sharif and Habib Kot-Sibi and Dera Murad Jamali and Jacobabad-Notal sections were also affected. Also, the signalling system at various spots became dysfunctional due to inundation and power outages.

From Karachi, the first train to leave at around 10am is Rahman Baba Express, which will reach Peshawar after making brief stops at Faisalabad, Wazirabad and Rawalpindi. The other train departing from the port city shortly afterwards will be the Khyber Mail, which will reach its final destination, Peshawar, via Sahiwal, Lahore and Rawalpindi. On the Lahore-Karachi-Lahore sections, the operations of three more trains — Karakoram Express, Karachi Express and Pak Business Express — would be restored from Oct 5.

The railway authorities also decided that additional coaches could be attached to the five trains to facilitate maximum passengers. However, other trains will resume service only after successful operations of the five trains.

Hundreds of porters working at railway stations have been without work due to the suspension of the passenger train service between different cities caused by devastating floods since the last week of August.

Around 30 to 50 porters work at small stations and roughly 200 at major stations; however, owing to the suspension of the train service, all of them has been struggling to make ends meet.

Successful restoration of trains operations will not only benefit passengers but also hundreds of porters working at Karachi, Hyderabad, Rohri and other stations.