Do you want to experience train travel at least once in your lifetime? Have you been put off by horror stories about Pakistan’s train travel? Then this is for you.
I recently travelled by train within Pakistan for the first time in my life, despite hearing so much against it. I assure you this review is the complete truth and from my personal experience.
I’ve always wanted to go on a trip by train. Being brought up on Air Travel exclusively via Emirates, I can assure you I have high standards of travel that are hard to meet.
Someone recommended the Green Line -a business class train running from Karachi-Cantt to Islamabad-Margalla, and vice versa. Since we had to go to Islamabad, this seemed like the best possible option. This and only two other local trains take you to Islamabad, otherwise all stop at Rawalpindi, after which you need to book a cab or something to Islamabad.
My Mom, sister, and I took it for the first time on the 18th of January, 2017.
The train was sharp on time. It had comfortable berths which were good to sleep on, but because this was my first ride I wanted to savour every moment of it wide awake. The staff was courteous and made sure we wanted for nothing. The train left Karachi at ten at night, so we were asked if we wanted dinner or tea. We were provided toiletries, TV remotes, and our berths were opened for us. We were all ladies, hence were in the ladies compartment, and the berths are difficult to open unassisted. We crossed Hyderabad, where the train stops for 5-10 minutes, and then we were left uninterrupted until morning.
Two meals and evening tea are included in the fare charged. Apart from that, passengers can order extras from the waiters at additional cost. The food is good, considering it’s on a moving train. Hygienically packed, and freshly served too. For good strong tea you need to tell them to get you “paki huwi chai“, otherwise you get the tea bag ones.
The service is great. The waiters were ever ready to lend assistance, there are no hawkers, no interruptions, no noise. The washrooms are clean and dry. We were travelling in extreme cold and foggy weather but the heating was so efficient that we didn’t feel uncomfortable. The fog delayed our arrival time by 1 hour though.
This train stops at five stations only, but I would not suggest getting down on all since it’s there for a very short time. I personally got down at Khanewal for some “station ki chai,” and at Lahore for pizza.
Approximate time the train stopped at each station:
Hyedrabad: 5-10 minutes
Multan: 5-10 minutes
Khanewal: 10-15 minutes
Lahore: 20-40 minutes
Rawalpindi: 5-10 minutes
Reached Margalla in high spirits and without a single ounce of tiredness which you would expect from 23 hours of travel without sleep.
The journey was the best I’ve ever had, far better than air travel in terms of the amazing view. I was a kid in a candy store! Kept clicking my camera and documenting every step.
There was no fear in travelling without a male. No one cared. Nobody disturbed us. In fact my sister and I got down at the two stations and roamed around quite freely without staring eyes.
The train itself is safe as anything. I loved it so much that I took the journey back on 14th Feb via the same train and have planned on catching the same train whenever I wish to visit family or have a work trip.
Please give local travel a chance. You’ll love what it has to offer. The views are breathtakingly beautiful from Karachi to Islamabad. The return journey not so much, since you pass green Punjab at night then, and by the time there’s light, you are in Sindh with its dry terrain. Nevertheless, I love both. They’re part of my Pakistan.
The train journey from Karachi to Islamabad, or vice versa, costs PKR 5500 one way. The price lessens if you cover fewer cities. A more comprehensive list and booking information can be gotten via Pak Railway website, or via their helpline at 117. It has a dedicated ladies compartments and family compartments. To get the best seat, I’d suggest booking tickets at least 8-14 days in advance. It’s a family friendly train and perfectly safe to travel alone in.