By Duriya Aamir
ISLAMABAD:The Rawalpindi-Kohat train section was rebooted in January 2018.
The Kohat broad gauge line connects to the garrison town of Rawalpindi. The line formerly ran from Golra Sharif to Khushalgarh and onward to Thal, however, the line now ends at Kohat Cantt. The complete length of this railway line is 272 kilometres (Km) to Thal station and 176 Km to Kohat. There are 16 railway stations from Golra Sharif Junction to Thal.
In 1991, the Kohat-Thal section was uninhibited by railways. One can still see the colonial-era stations of Golra Sharif, Fatehjang, Gagan Basal Domel, Nammal, Langar, Jand and Babari Banda on the way. These stations still display colonial systems, for instance, one will find Gillet and Johnston Croydon wall clocks at these stations, although only a few of them are working today.
Colonel Thomas Gracey was the engineer-in-chief of the Rawalpindi-Kohat section and the original line was a mixed gauge strategic military railway built in 1902 by the British rule.
The Rawalpindi–Kohat section, which once used to facilitate many people, was closed down due to losses in September 2011. In November 2012, services were resumed. Then in May 2013 it was again deferred due to acute shortage of locomotives, as well as, less patronization by the general public. The people of Kohat demanded a continuation of the service to their area. Elders of the city performed a protest rally to demand resumption of the train service in their area as the necessary infrastructure existed already.
Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif visited the city in October 2016 and on demand of the citizens there, promised the Kohat Passenger Train’s restoration. For early amenability of the directive, the Railways Federal Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique appointed a committee of Pakistan Railways principal officers to conduct an instantaneous survey of the section and initiate actions for its refurbishment without wasting any time.
The committee, after obligatory surveys, site visits and planning, concluded that thorough repair and convalescent work at the stations, track and structure was required before regular train operations could be commissioned.
Now on this section, the upgraded Kohat Express is providing economical and safe travel for KPK’s people. It connects populaces of Kohat to other expanses of the country through Rawalpindi and Islamabad. This value-added rail car has 7 coaches as compared to the old rail car which had 5 coaches.
Almost Rs 35 crores have been spent for recommencing a rail car and upgrading the entire structure. Kohat Cantt Railway Station, Tarnol, Bosal and Jand railway stations have also been upgraded.
Furthermore, Pakistan Railways has exalted its signalling system at Fateh Jang, Gugan, Faqeer Hussain Shaheed and Babri Panda at the cost of Rs 1 crore and 90 lacs. For safe travel through the Kohat Express, 5 unmanned level crossings have been manned between Kohat and Jand with an estimated cost of Rs 4 crore and 12 lacs. A side drain has also been walled between Kohat and Jand with an estimated cost of Rs 2 crores, 70 lacs. The bridges on the way have also been made innocuous. The fare for the Kohat Express is Rs 160 for.
In the last 4 years, Pakistan Railways has improved and tried to provide decent travelling facilities to its passengers throughout the country.
Now, Pakistan Railways shall consider resuming other abandoned railway sections like Sibi-Khost, Samasata-Amruka, Peshawar-Landi Khana and Mirpur Khas–Nawabshah.