The operations of Indo-Pak Samjhauta Express which was suspended amidst strain in ties between India and Pakistan, has been restored and will leave for Pakistan from Delhi on Sunday, March 3, 2019, a senior Railway officer said. The development came after the two countries agreed to resume services at their ends following the release of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. On the Pakistan side the train will leave for India from Lahore on Monday, March 4. On the Indian side the train runs from Delhi to Attari and from Lahore to Wagah on the Pakistan side.
Pakistan had on February 26 cancelled its services right after an air strike by the Indian Air Force (IAF) while India cancelled the operations of the Samjhauta Express on February 28. However, senior Railways officials said the suspension was due to "purely operational reasons" while releasing a notification in this regard in the national capital.
"Samjhauta Express services to resume from India from March 3," the news agency ANI reported.
Samjhauta Express services to resume from India from March 3. pic.twitter.com/jVCpJsMtK1— ANI (@ANI) March 2, 2019
In the aftermath of the February 14 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, the Railway Board had also suspended all operations of the Attari Special Express, Delhi-Attari-Delhi, which together with the Wagah-Lahore link is known as the Samjhauta or Friendship Express. With this, at least 40 passengers from both countries were believed to be stranded at Attari, according to sources.
Originally, the train offered a through service with one rake going all the way between the terminals - Delhi in India to Lahore in Pakistan. However, now a Pakistani rake stops at Attari at which point passengers have to change trains and board an Indian rake.
The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for "agreement", comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. The train service was started on July 22, 1976 under the Shimla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.
From Lahore, the train departs on Monday and Thursday. The train operates from Delhi on every Wednesday and Sunday.
There were also reports that the footfall on the train, which generally records an occupancy of around 70 per cent, has fallen drastically post the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.