Introduction of freight trains on Munabao-Khokrapar route likely

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New Delhi, Jun 19 (UNI) India and Pakistan today agreed to initiate measures to introduce transnational goods trains on the Munabao-Khokrapar route and increase the level of freight interchange at Wagah and Attari.

The decision was taken after a three-day meeting between senior officials of Indian and Pakistan Railways, which concluded here today.

Earlier in the day, the six-member Pakistani delegation, led by Mr Shafiq Ullah, Director (Operation), Pakistan Railways, called on Railway Minister Lalu Prasad. Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik was present on the occasion.

The nine-member Indian Delegation was led by Mr R N Verma, Additional Member (Traffic), Ministry of Railways.

Mr Prasad impressed upon the need for increasing the interchange of freight trains between India and Pakistan in view of the increased trade between the two countries, especially of cement.

He also emphasised on the need for opening up the Munabao-Khokhrapar route to freight services.

The two sides held discussions, ''in a cordial atmosphere and the spirit of cooperation'', on several issues in respect of running of both freight and passenger services between India and Pakistan.

Several proposals to increase the level of freight interchange between India and Pakistan at Wagah and Attari were discussed, particularly with a view to increase import of cement from Pakistan.

More important among them were running of increased number of freight trains between India and Pakistan, experimenting with running of longer trains and introduction of eight-wheeler wagons from the Pakistan side.

They also agreed to explore the possibility of running of container train between the two countries to give a fillip to the burgeoning trade ties betweem India and Pakistan.

Another proposal that came up for deliberation was to increase the frequency of freight trains to four from the present two per day on the Amritsar-Lahore route. At present, India exports animal feed while Pakistan exports cement on this route.

The railway officials of India and Pakistan hold this meeting every six months to discuss operational matters. The last meeting was held in Pakistan in April 2007.

UNI/SKS RR RK1805

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