ISLAMABAD-The British era railway station of Hasanabdal has been upgraded and re-constructed after 127 years to facilitate the travelling of Sikh pilgrims visiting their holy worship place – Gurdawara Sri Panja Sahib.

Inayatullah, a resident of Hasanabdal, developed an emotional bond with the city’s railway station since 1976, when his family moved to the nearby residential area. His attachment became stronger when he started commuting to Attock college by train with a group of his student fellows.

Recalling his memories with the old building, he said that the station building built in the British era, overshadowed by long-bearded old banyan trees, was an icon of grace, peace, and activity for us.

“I knew every brick and bench, light and fan, track and signal post, gargoyle and drain, and crack in the platform at the station. For me, the old, usually quiet building was graceful,” he said.

Established in 1839, the Hasanabdal railway station platform is hosting Sikh pilgrims from India and other parts of the country on the famous Baisakhi festival in the month of April every year.

However, after 127 years, Sikh pilgrims carrying train tickets will see an upgraded railway station with multiple tombs on the roof which gives a reflection of the Gurdawara architecture.

Sikh Cyber Museum quoted a historic incident that took place in October 1922 on this railway station when the Sikh community of Hasanabdal made a ‘human brake’ to stop a special train carrying Sikh prisoners heading to Peshawar from Amritsar.

Sikh community gathered at Hasanabdal and implored the station master to stop the train so they could serve food to the prisoners. The request was refused bluntly. The Sikhs squatted on the tracks to form a human brake.  The train hit the Sikhs on the tracks and came to a halt, killing and injuring many. It took one and a half hours before the tracks were cleared and the prisoners fed (if only they were able to eat) and the train resumed its journey.

Project Director (PD) Omer Fayyaz from HMS enterprises said trains journeys will continue to Hasanabdal railway station with more potential. He informed that Rs260 million project of upgradation of this railway station was completed in over a two-year duration and has been upgraded with modern facilities.

The project director said that a two storey railway station building covers 24,502 square feet space and 101,610 square feet external development area has been allocated for passengers’ facilities.

About the facilities provided, Fayyaz said that the upgraded railway station has waiting area, café, community hall, water filtration plant, water tank of 25,000 gallons capacity and filtration plant, 300 KVA generator for uninterrupted electricity supply, security fire alarms, shelters and overhead bridge.

“In future, the first floor of this railway station will be utilised as a control room of bullet train,” he said.

Meanwhile, for Inayatullah, upgrading and modernising the station to facilitate the passengers, especially Sikh yatris was the need of the day, and it has been done well.

“The new building is magnificent with enhanced outlook and architecture. I hope safe and smooth operation will be ensured,” he said.

But local passengers including Nazir Ahmed also want more trains to stop at this station.

“Five trains cross this station in a day, but only one train (Awami Express) twice a day stops here, while a number of passengers daily travel to Attock and Rawalpindi from Hasanabdal,” he said.