New Delhi: The Karachi-bound Thar Express with 165 passengers on-board has reached Munabao station on the Indian side of the border with Pakistan on Saturday morning, officials said. The passengers are currently undergoing customs clearance following which it will move towards zero point station which is on the International Border, they said.
Among the 165 passengers, 81 are Indians, who are visiting their relatives in Pakistan. Eighty-four Pakistan nationals are returning to their country after completion of their visa limit in India, a railway official has said. The train from Pakistan has also reached zero points and is expected to depart as per the schedule, a spokesperson for North Western Railway said.
The train from Bhagat Ki Kothi station in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur left at 1 am and reached Munabao at 6.55 am, the officials said. The Thar Express has been running between Jodhpur and Karachi every Friday night since services resumed on 18 February 2006, after a 41-year suspension. From Pakistan, the train travels from Karachi to zero points where the passengers change trains.
The train from Pakistan has reached zero points at 10 am, the officials said. According to estimates, over four lakh passengers have taken the train in the past 13 years. Pakistan on Friday said that it has suspended all train services to India. Pakistan’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced in Islamabad that this would be the last Jodhpur-Karachi train.
Thar Express is an international passenger train, which was being operated weekly by Pakistan Railways between Karachi and Khokhrapar. The trip would take approximately 7 hours and 5 minutes to cover a distance of 381 km, travelling along a stretch of the Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line and Hyderabad–Khokhrapar Branch Line. Upon reaching Zero Point railway station and clearing customs, passengers would cross the border to Munabao, India, and board the Thar Link Express to Jodhpur.
The Thar Express was a continuation of the previous Sind Mail. It was revived after a period of 41 years on 18 February 2006. The Hyderabad–Khokhrapar Branch Line was built in 1892 as the Hyderabad–Jodhpur Railway and was originally constructed as a 1,676 mm broad gauge railway line. In 1901, the section was converted to 1,000 mm metre gauge where it joined the second section between Shadipalli and Luni and onwards to Jodhpur.
In February 2006, the entire Hyderabad–Khokhrapar line was re-converted again back to the original to 1676 mm broad gauge line. Prior to 1965, the last station was Khokhropar railway station, about 10 km from the border. When the new service began in 2006, Pakistan Railways constructed a new station, called Zero Point railway station, a few hundred meter from the border, where immigration and customs checks are carried out now. Opposite this, 6 km apart, Munabao railway station is located on the Indian side of the border in Barmer district of Rajasthan, where Indian immigration and customs checks are carried out.