KHANEWAL

A number of commuters including traders, politicians and members of civil society protested against the change of departure time of 115-Up Shah Shams Express from Multan, alleging that change of its departure time was aimed to benefit the private transporters, and to cause huge loss to the department.

They also demanded the restoration of train stopovers at Khanewal, Mian Channu and Chichawatni junctions to provide safer and cheaper travelling facility to the local people and to enhance the Railways revenue. They threatened that if their demands were not accepted they would stage protest demonstrations at railway stations.

They alleged that the Pakistan Railway authorities took bribe for change of train schedules according to the wish of private transporters. They demanded action against such black by the National Accountability Bureau.

On August 8, 2011, Shah Shams Express (115-Up & 116-down) had been stopped due to shortage of locomotives when its revenue was about 29.929 million per annum. During the present regime, the train was restored last year between Multan and Lahore and its time was fixed 4.00pm. It comprises seven coaches including four economy-class coaches, two business class and one coach of AC parlor. It facilitates about 628 passengers at one time, sources said. Thus the revenue generated from it is about Rs4.1 million and Rs48 million annually. But the railways authorities has planned to change the departure time of the train from 4.00pm to 5.00am.

It is worth mentioning that early in the early morning, there are a number of trains for upside like Jaffar Express, Karachi Express, Pakistan Express, Tezgam Express and 1-up Khyber Mail Express at 1.30pm. At this stage, Shah Shams Express is the only train after 1-up Khyber Mail Express till Awam Express at 23.56pm. This timing is feasible for those who travel to Lahore for business, service personal matters, they said.

The local people have demanded that the railways should continue the earlier timing of the train to facilitate the commuters and also restore stopovers of Khanewal, Mian Channu and Chichawatni.

DS Railways Multan Shah Rukh while giving his version said that the Railway Headquarters Lahore is the authority to change the schedule, and claimed that the decision was in the public interest.