There is a romance attached with train journeys. These are different from road journeys and the comfort they symbolise is said to surpass all other journeys, including air.
Before the 1980s, trains were a favoured mode of travel and the freight trains were literally fixed to the engines of Pakistan’s economy. Then came the NLC (National Logistics Cell) trucks, and the freight and passengers both switched en masse to road travel.
Railway since then has constantly been in the news which is mostly about revival of passenger trains on this route or that. In our Special Report today, we do not want to look at the state of Pakistan Railway, ascertain its claims of revival or weigh them against the number of accidents that routinely happen or question the absurdity of not shifting the freight to railway. This has nothing to do with the infrastructure promises made under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) either.
This Special Report is only about subjective accounts of train journeys across Pakistan, some along routes that have been closed for good. These accounts don’t just speak to the authorities to bring back the glorious even if imperfect trains back, they also aim to shake people’s memories into remembering their own journeys from the past.
Read also: Trains of thought
So does all the romance and comfort make all train journeys unforgettable? As The News on Sunday asks people to write about their train journeys, it is not only the unforgettable ones that are put on paper. Some take trains just because they are “forgettable” and “unromantic” where “time hangs heavy and there’s very little of interest going on for long hours”. We also have an account of one journey to the highest point of Pakistan’s railway system.
When read together, there is so much common between all these trains of thought that they flow seamlessly into each other. Over to you!