Movement of goods trains between India and Pak on halt

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 in Punjab, sources in the Railway Ministry said.

The drivers had applied for renewal of visas in time but when it did not materialise the Railways approached the External Affairs Ministry for its intervention, they said.
The MEA has since taken up the matter with Pakistan which has said it was looking into the matter, they said.

The clearance is awaited from Islamabad for the visas and nothing can be said about when the documents would be given to the drivers, they said.

As uncertainty continues over the visas, the movement of goods trains remains suspended.

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.

The main goods transported by the trains include cement from Pakistan and chicken feed from India.

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' term to drive upto Lahore and our term will end in February," a Railway Ministry source said.

However, the movement of the passenger train to Pakistan has not been affected. "Because passenger train does not go beyond Attari whereas goods train goes upto Lahore," said the source.

The supply of onions, which is being imported from Pakistan because of immense cost escalation here, is not affected as these are being transported by trucks.

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