The Indian Railways has suspended operations of the India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express from its end starting Thursday, news agency PTI said today. The decision, it said, was based on "purely operational reasons" arising from the fact that the train has been carrying very few passengers due to stoppage of services from Pakistan's side.
PTI quoted an official notification as saying that the Railway Board has also suspended operations of the Attari Special Express -- running between Delhi and Attari -- from March 3. This train, together with the Wagah-Lahore link, forms the bi-weekly Samjhauta Express launched by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and then Pakistan President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as part of the Shimla Agreement on July 22, 1976.
Pakistan had already halted services from across the border amid recent hostilities between the two countries. "With no passengers from Pakistan, it makes no sense to run the train from our end. The cancellation has been done for purely operational reasons. Hopefully, we will be able to resume services once tensions de-escalate," a source told PTI.
The news agency said that although the train was supposed to leave for Delhi from Attari around 8 pm, the trip now stands cancelled. At least 40 passengers from both countries are believed to be stranded there, it quoted sources as saying.
On Wednesday, Pakistan had cancelled the train trip on the Wagah-Lahore stretch even as 27 passengers - 24 Indians and three from the neighbouring country - arrived in Attari at 7 am. The train had left the Old Delhi Railway station at 11.20 pm on Wednesday night.
The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for "agreement", comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. Sources said that occupancy of the train, which is around 70 per cent, had fallen drastically after the death of 40 CRPF soldiers in the Pulwama terror attack on February 14.
(With inputs from PTI)