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Samjhauta only between Attari and Wagah

AMRITSAR, APRIL 15: Following Friday's agreement between Indian Railways and Pakistan Railways, the bi-weekly Samjhauta Express has earned the rare distinction of a train that will cover a distance of just under three kms, possibly the shortest route covered by any train in the world.

As per the agreement, which was signed at the Wagah Road checkpost, the Samjhauta Express comprising rakes of Indian Railways would run between Attari and the Wagah Railway Station which is on the other side of the border, a distance of less than three kms. The train would return to Attari from Wagah in the evening on the same day.

This is for the second time that the distance of the Samjhauta Express has been reduced. When the train was started on July 22, 1976 following the Shimla Agreement it used to run between Amritsar and Lahore, a distance of about 42 kms.

But following disturbances in Punjab in the late eighties, due to security reasons Indian Railways decided to terminate the service at Attari, where customs and immigration clearances take place.

According to officals of the Indian railways, as per the new arrangement, which would come into effect on april 20, passengers bound for lahore would travel on board the attari special train from new Delhi to the border station of attari. After immigration and customs clearance at attari they would board the samjhauta Express and leave for wagah.

Officials said that coaches of the new Delhi-attari special trainwould not be sent across to wagah. Officals clarified that coaches of the samjhauta Express would not move beyond attari due to security reasons. Only for cleaning and washing purposes these coaches would be taken to the amritsar railway yard.

Officals said the decision not to use the coaches of the attarispecial train for the samjhauta Express stemmed from the fact that it would be easier to guard coaches of the train at attari or amritsar than at new Delhi. Smuggled items concealed in the coaches would not be easy to recover at attari because the station was small and only one or two trains in a day ply on the amritsar-attari route.

According to yesterday's agreement, passengers who alight atwagah station would be taken to lahore on a train of the Pakistan railways. The samjhauta Express would return with India bound passengers who would then board the train to new Delhi from attari.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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