Pak clears visa of Indian drivers, goods train ready to roll
NEW DELHI: With Pakistan issuing visas to six loco pilots and a guard of the Indian Railways, the movement of a goods train to Lahore is expected to resume.
The movement of goods trains between India and Pakistan came to a standstill on December 22 after visas of Indian drivers were not renewed.
“Visa documents of six train drivers and a guard have been cleared and the goods train is expected to resume its Lahore journey. Some more visa applications are still pending and we are hoping these would also be cleared soon,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.
The Pakistani visas of 10 drivers expired last month and the validity of visas of three others ended on December 22, when the last ferry was made through the Wagah-Attari border in Amritsar.
The drivers had applied for renewal of visas in time but when it did not materialize the Railways approached the External Affairs Ministry for its intervention, the official said.
The main goods transported by the trains include cement from Pakistan and chicken feed from India.
There is no fixed schedule for the cross-border movement of goods trains via Wagah-Attari border but on an average one train plies every day from either side depending on the cargo availability.
Loco pilots of both the countries take the trains to other side on a six-month rotation basis. According to the arrangement, Indian drivers take the goods train to Lahore for six months and Pakistan drivers drive the freight trains to Amritsar for another six months.
“Currently it was Indian Railways’ turn to drive up to Lahore and our term will end in February,” said the official.
However, the movement of passenger train to Pakistan was not affected. “The passenger trains do not go beyond Attari whereas goods train goes up to Lahore,” said the official.
The supply of onions, which is being imported from Pakistan due to cost escalation here, has not been affected as these are being transported by trucks.