Sialkot and Narowal junction railway stations wear a deserted look due to the prolonged closure of 10 passenger trains plying among Sialkot-Wazirabad-Rawalpindi and Sialkot-Narowal-Lahore, it is learnt.

Because of the trains’ closure, thousands of passengers in Sialkot region and other areas are faced with great difficulties in travelling as they have been left at the mercy of the private transporters. At present, only two trains are functional from Sialkot and Narowal junction railway stations instead of 12 trains for 4 million population of Sialkot district and 1.7 million of Narowal district.

Expressing grave concern over the situation, Sheikh Ejaz Ahmed, chairman of Departmental Committee for Railways, Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the industrial workers and labourers were the most affected due to the prolonged closure of the trains.

He added that thousands of industrial workers and labourers belonging to Wazirabad, Sambrial, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Kharian, Jhelum, Pasrur, Shakargarh, Baddo Malhi, Narowal and surrounding areas work at Sialkot factories and they have to reach Sialkot by private transport by paying inflated fares. He added that the practice was resulting in their delayed arrival at work places due to which industrial production was badly hampering. He said that main reason behind the practice was the closure of the passenger trains.

He urged Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq to ensure early re-start of the suspended trains from Sialkot junction railway station to facilitate the business community and industrial workers. Sialkot based officials of Pakistan Railways said that only two passenger trains were running out of total twelve trains namely Allama Iqbal Express (from Sialkot to Karachi via Lahore) and Lasani Express (from Sialkot to Lahore via Narowal) from these two junction stations.

The situation irks the local people while the private transporters are taking advantage from the trains’ closure. The commuters have expressed grave concern over the situation. As the stations wear a deserted look, the reservation office and ticket booths are often found non-functional and closed, due to which the commuters have to face difficulties in getting their seats reserved.

Moreover, there were only four ceiling fans on all the three platforms of Sialkot junction railway station and out of these four ceiling fans, two were functional.