Pakistan Railways: History, Significance & More

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Pakistan Railways serves as a vital means of transportation in the most remote regions of the nation, whether it is for business, tourism, or education purposes.

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Learn More has compiled a guide on Pakistan Railways, which helps you understand its main lines, routes, and fare rates.


An Overview of Pak Railway


Aspect of Pak RailwayInformation about Pak Railway
Organization NamePakistan Railways
Established1861 (Initially as Scinde Railway)
HeadquartersLahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Network LengthApproximately 8,163 kilometers
Divisional OfficesMultiple divisions across the country
Key ServicesPassenger and freight transportation
Main LinesMain Line 1 (ML-1), Main Line 2 (ML-2), Main Line 3 (ML-3)
Recent ProjectsML-1 Upgradation Project, Green Line Express Train, Orange Line Metro Train (Part of Lahore Metro)
Technological RoleModernization initiatives, digitization efforts
Official WebsitePakistan Railways Official Website


History of Pakistan Railways

In 1858, Sir Henry Edward Frere (former governor of Bombay)  started the survey for the railroad line. A line from Karachi to Kotri, steam navigation up Indus/Chenab to Multan, and another railway from there to Lahore and beyond were all proposed for construction.

The first railway line, spanning 105 miles from Karachi to Kotri, was inaugurated for public use on May 13th, 1861. On 16 June 1889, a line connecting Karachi and Keamari was inaugurated. The railway between Keamari and Kotri was extended in 1897.

Alexander’s route over the Hindu Kush to the sea runs parallel to the railway line going from Peshawar to Karachi. The last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century saw the construction of various portions of the main line connecting Peshawar with Lahore and Multan, as well as the branch lines.


Pakistan Railways Steam Engine


The four separate companies, Scinde Railways, Indian Flotilla Company, Punjab Railways, and Delhi Railways, later merged to form Scinde, Punjab & Delhi Railways Company. The Secretary of State for India bought the company in 1885 and, in January 1886, it was given the name North Western State Railways, which was later changed to North Western Railways.

The 1847 route miles of the North Western Railway were given to India at the time of partition, leaving the remaining 5048 route miles in Pakistan.

The Mardan and Charsadda sections of the railway line were added in 1954, and the 2′-6’ wide Jacobabad-Kashmore route was converted to a broad gauge in 1956. Between 1969 and 1973, the Kot Adu-Kashmore railway was built, offering a different route from Karachi to the upcountry.


Railway Infrastructure of Pakistan


Map showing network of Pakistan Railways


11,881 kilometres (7,383 miles) of train tracks make up Pakistan’s railway system. However, about 80% of the rails are a part of 80 to 90-year-old historical buildings.

According to recent figures, the top speed on the majority of these Pakistani railway lines is 120 km/h (75 mph). The improved parts of the Karachi to Peshawar railway line, however, allow for speeds of up to 130 kph (81 mph).

Additionally, work is being done in Pakistan as part of the CPEC Projects to modernise the majority of the major lines to enable quicker train speeds of up to 160 kph (99 mph) and lessen the amount of congestion experienced by Pakistani railway traffic. 

You may find information about Pakistan’s main railway lines in the table below:


Main Railway Lines in Pakistan


Main Line 1 (ML-1)Karachi–Peshawar Line1,687 kilometres
Main Line 2 (ML-2)Kotri–Attock Line1,519 kilometres
Main Line 3 (ML-3)Rohri–Chaman Line523 kilometres
Main Line 4 (ML-4)Quetta–Taftan Line523 kilometres
Main Line 5 (ML-5)Taxila–Khunjerab Line682 kilometres


Pakistan’s railway system includes main lines and branch lines. Currently, there are only 5 main lines and about 20 branch lines that connect the various cities in the provinces and their districts.

The CPEC Projects in Pakistan include upgrading the mainline that connects Peshawar and Karachi. It is a six-year project with an estimated $6.3 billion price tag. The Pakistani Ministry of Railway has suggested certain new rail routes to connect Gwadar Port to Central Asia.

These railway lines’ names are listed as follows:

  • Karachi–Gwadar Railway Line (Makran Railway)
  • Gwadar–Mastung Branch Line
  • Bostan–Zhob–Dera Ismail Khan Branch Line
  • Basima–Jacobabad Branch Line
  • Islamabad–Muzaffarabad Branch Line


A Pakistan Railways Train on Track


Digitisation of Pakistan Railways

Following Pakistan’s efforts to advance e-governance, the nation’s railway system has also been digitised.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Railways and Pakistan Information Technology Board (PITB) have jointly inaugurated the nation’s railway booking and timetable website. For your reference, a screenshot of this e-portal has been attached.

To manage your schedule and make preparations accordingly, you may easily register on this portal using your mobile number and other details. You can then check the availability of trains.


Railway Stations in Pakistan

Several thousand railroad stations connect Pakistan’s extensive rail network. The majority of these train stations house railway junctions. Popular rail hubs can be found in cities like Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Faisalabad, Multan, and Hyderabad.

Given that Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city, three railway stations are located there: City Station, which is close to II Chundrigar Road; Cantt Station, which is close to Clifton; and Drigh Road Station, which is located in Faisal Cantonment.

One of the world’s most advanced circular railway systems was also located here. The Karachi Circular Railway is now being restored by the authorities in order to make it operational once more. Lahore’s train station is also a popular historical site in Lahore that has so far been effectively preserved by the government.

Additionally, the majority of Pakistan’s major railway stations provide a range of facilities, including parking spaces, waiting areas, historical museums, reservation desks with computerised systems, and cafeterias.


Popular Railway Trains


Pakistan Railway Train on Track


Popular TrainsRoutes
Akbar ExpressQuetta–Lahore Junction
Allama Iqbal ExpressKarachi City Station–Sialkot Junction
Attock PassengerMari Indus–Attock City Junction
Awam ExpressKarachi City Station–Peshawar Cantonment
Babu PassengerLahore Junction–Wazirabad Junction
Badar ExpressLahore Junction–Faisalabad
Badin ExpressHyderabad Junction–Badin
Bahauddin Zakaria ExpressKarachi City Station–Multan Cantonment
Bolan MailKarachi City Station–Quetta
Chaman MixedQuetta–Chaman
Chenab ExpressSargodha Junction–LalaMusa Junction
Dhabeji ExpressKarachi Cantonment Station–Dhabeji
Faiz Ahmed Faiz ExpressLahore Junction–Narowal Junction
Fareed ExpressKarachi City Station–Lahore Junction
Faisal ExpressLahore Junction–Faisalabad
Faisalabad ExpressMultan Cantonment–Faisalabad
Ghouri ExpressLahore Junction–Faisalabad
GreenLine ExpressKarachi Cantonment Station–Islamabad
Hazara ExpressKarachi City Station–Havelian
Islamabad ExpressLahore Junction–Islamabad
Jaffar ExpressPeshawar–Quetta
Jand PassengerJand Junction–Attock City Junction
Jinnah ExpressKarachi Cantonment Station–RawalpindiKarachi Cantonment Station–Lahore Cantonment
Karachi ExpressKarachi City Station–Lahore Junction
Kohat ExpressRawalpindi–Kohat
Karakoram ExpressKarachi City Station–Lahore Junction
Khushhal Khan Khattak ExpressKarachi City Station–Peshawar Cantonment
Khyber MailKarachi Cantonment Station–Peshawar Cantonment
Karana PassengerLala Musa Junction–Sargodha Junction
Lasani ExpressLahore Junction–Sialkot Junction
Lala Musa ExpressLala Musa Junction–Sargodha Junction
Margalla ExpressLahore Junction–Rawalpindi
Marala PassengerWazirabad Junction–Narowal Junction
Mari Indus ExpressMari Indus–Lahore Junction
Mianwali ExpressMari Indus Junction–Lahore Junction
Multan ExpressMultan Cantonment–Lahore Junction
Mehran ExpressKarachi City Station–Mirpur Khas
Musa Pak ExpressMultan Cantonment–Lahore Junction
Meher ExpressMultan Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Mohenjo-Daro ExpressRohri Junction–Kotri Junction
Millat ExpressKarachi City Station–Malakwal Junction
Mixed PassengerMultan Cantonment–Lahore Junction
Narowal PassengerNarowal Junction–Lahore Junction
Niazi ExpressMari Indus–Lahore Junction
Pakistan Business ExpressKarachi Cantonment Station–Lahore Junction
Pakistan ExpressKarachi Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Rohi Fast PassengerKhanpur–Sukkur
Rehman Baba ExpressPeshawar Cantonment–Karachi Cantonment
Rawalpindi ExpressLahore–Rawalpindi
Shah Hussain ExpressKarachi Cantonment Station–Lahore Junction
Samjhauta ExpressLahore–Wagah
Shalimar ExpressKarachi Cantonment–Lahore Junction
Subak Kharam ExpressLahore Junction–Rawalpindi
Shah Rukn-e-Alam ExpressMultan Cantonment–Karachi Cantonment
Subak Raftar ExpressLahore Junction–Islamabad
Sukkur ExpressKarachi City Station–Jacobabad Junction
Sindh ExpressKarachi Cantonment–Sukkur
Sir Syed ExpressKarachi Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Shah Latif Bhattai ExpressDhabeji–Mirpur Khas
Tezgam ExpressKarachi Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Thal ExpressMultan Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Thar ExpressKarachi Cantonment Station–Zero Point
Waris Shah FastLahore Junction–Shorkot Cantonment Junction


Freight Transportation Services by Pakistan Railways

Pakistan’s strategic location is one of the main reasons why it is an activity hub under the auspices of the Belt and Road Initiative by the Chinese government. In Pakistan, several significant dry ports, which will be connected by railway lines, are now being built throughout the nation.

According to the report of the 2021–22 fiscal year, the current revenue of the railway industry in Pakistan has increased to PKR 58 billion, which is quite good in terms of the country’s overall economic progress. Currently, the railway accounts for roughly 73 per cent of freight transportation in the nation.

The two main Pakistani ports, Port Qasim and Karachi Port are also connected to the country’s freight railway transit system. It is used to transport agricultural, industrial, and imported goods, including sugar, wheat, coal, fertiliser, rock phosphate, vehicles, electronics, and a variety of lubricants.


Modernisation Project of Pakistan Railways

Pakistan Railways and a Chinese business has signed a contract for $140 million (or roughly PKR 31 billion) for the upgradation project of Pakistan Railway coaches. According to that agreement, the Chinese corporation will give Pakistan 230 cutting-edge passenger coaches.

46 coaches will be purchased as completely built units (CBUs). The Pakistan Railways would produce the remaining items locally with the assistance of its engineers and technical employees, under the supervision of specialists from the Chinese enterprise. The first batch of contemporary coaches was only recently delivered to Pakistan Railways.


Famous Railways Stations in Pakistan


A Historical Train Coach standing on Golra Sharif Railway Junction


The following are some of the most famous railway stations in Pakistan:

  • Lahore Railway Station
  • Rawalpindi Railway Station
  • Railway Station of Sukkur
  • Railway Station of Attock Khurd
  • Quetta Railway Station
  • Golra Sharif Railway Station
  • Faisalabad Railway Station
  • Bahawalpur Railway Station
  • Mirpur Khas Railway Station
  • Gujranwala Railway Station
  • Rahim Yar Khan Railway Station
  • Gujrat Railway Station
  • Hyderabad Railway Station
  • Okara Railway Station
  • Sahiwal Railway Station
  • Khushab Railway Station
  • Jauharabad Railway Station
  • Quaidabad Railway Station
  • Shikarpur Railway Station
  • Karachi Railway Station


Pakistan Railway Online Booking

Pakistan Railway offers an online booking system to make train travel more convenient for passengers. This online booking system enables passengers to book train tickets from the comfort of their homes or offices without the need to visit a railway station.

Passengers can easily access the Pakistan Railway website and select their preferred train, route, and class of travel. The online booking system allows passengers to make secure payments through various payment options, including credit cards, debit cards, and online banking.

This feature has greatly facilitated the process of ticket booking and has made train travel in Pakistan more accessible and hassle-free. With the availability of this online booking system, passengers can avoid long queues and save time and energy while planning their travel on Pakistan Railway.




What are the services provided by Pakistan Railway?

Pakistan Railway provides a wide range of services, including passenger transportation, freight transportation, parcel services, and special trains for holidays and events.


What are the different classes of travel offered by Pakistan Railway?

Pakistan Railway offers various classes of travel, including Economy, Business, and AC Sleeper, as well as Luxury and Royal classes on certain trains.


How can I book a train ticket on Pakistan Railway?

Passengers can book train tickets on Pakistan Railway through various channels, including online booking, ticket counters at railway stations, and authorized travel agents.


What is the punctuality rate of Pakistan Railway?

Pakistan Railway has faced criticism in the past for poor punctuality rates, but the company has been working to improve its performance in recent years.


What are the safety measures taken by Pakistan Railway?

Pakistan Railway takes various safety measures to ensure the safety of its passengers, including regular maintenance of trains and tracks, installation of safety equipment, and training of staff on safety procedures.


What is the future of Pakistan Railway?

Pakistan Railway is currently undergoing a massive modernization and expansion program with the aim of improving its services and increasing its capacity to meet the growing demand for rail transportation in Pakistan.


Who is the owner of Pakistan Railway?

Pakistan Railway is owned and operated by the Pakistan Railways, which is a state-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Railways of the Government of Pakistan.


Which is the biggest train of Pakistan?

The biggest train of Pakistan is the Tezgam Express, which is a passenger train that operates between Karachi and Rawalpindi. It is one of the longest and heaviest trains in Pakistan, with a total length of around 750 meters and a weight of approximately 1,700 tonnes.


Which is the fastest train in Pakistan?

The fastest train in Pakistan is the Green Line Express, which is a passenger train that operates between Karachi and Islamabad. It has a maximum speed of 160 km/h (99 mph) and is equipped with modern amenities such as air-conditioned cabins, onboard Wi-Fi, and entertainment systems.


Which is the best Pakistan Railway?

It is subjective to determine which is the best Pakistan Railway as it depends on the preferences of the passengers. However, the department has been working on improving its services and facilities in recent years, with the aim of providing better experiences for passengers.

The newly introduced trains such as the Green Line Express and the modernization of the existing ones have greatly improved the standard of railway travel in Pakistan.

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