Peshawar            -           Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture and Tourism Authority (CTA), in collaboration with Pakistan Railways, has decided to start the historic steam safari train service on two routes to promote tourism and also earn revenue in case it attracts a good number of passengers.

“Though we are still thinking about the fare, it is likely to be approximately Rs.5,000 per passenger,” Secretary Tourism, Culture and Archaeology, KP, Abid Majeed told The Nation.

The official said that the steam safari would ply on two routes, i.e Peshawar to Takhtbhai (famous Buddhist site) and Peshawar to Attock and back. He said the KP Chief Minister had given approval for the safari service.

Pakistan Railways organised a trip in November 2019 as joint venture with a private company. Also, another trip was arranged in February 2020 wherein the steam engine developed some fault in Pabbi area while on way to Attock.

“Due to the previous experience in 2020 when a Safari steam engine developed a fault, this time we will also have an extra diesel engine in the steam safari so that we can cope with any untoward situation during the travel,” said Abid Majeed.

The passengers will also be entertained with live music, camel ride, games, traditional food, and visit old Attock Bridge and Buddhist archaeological sites in Takhtbhai.

The distance from Peshawar to Attock Khurd is 184km from both sides and one side travel takes almost one and a half hours. The second route is Peshawar to Takhtbhai, its round trip is around 162km.

It may be mentioned here that Khyber Steam Safari that used to run between Peshawar and Landikotal, Khyber tribal district, had proved to be a major tourist attraction in KP and the erstwhile Fata for foreigners and locals for years.

However, Managing Director Tourism Corporation KP Junaid Khan told The Nation that the Khyber steam safari was stopped years ago after two bridges on the track near Takhta Beg in Khyber were destroyed and authorities would have to reconstruct these bridges before the revival of steam safari there.

Explaining the newly established KP CTA, Junaid Khan said that four bodies were working under the KP CTA, i.e TCKP, KP Culture Directorate, Directorate of Tourism Services and Pakistan Austrian Institute for Hotel Management (PAITHOM).

He also said the steam safari train will function through winter season, starting from September.

There were three steam locomotives, which were manufactured by Vulcan Foundry and Kitson & Company around 1920. In the early 20th century, these locomotives were the property of North West Railway and later given to Pakistan after its inception in 1947.