Pakistan Railways: History, Significance & More

Blog Image for Pakistan Railways

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


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


Line Description Length
Main Line 1 (ML-1) Karachi–Peshawar Line 1,687 kilometres
Main Line 2 (ML-2) Kotri–Attock Line 1,519 kilometres
Main Line 3 (ML-3) Rohri–Chaman Line 523 kilometres
Main Line 4 (ML-4) Quetta–Taftan Line 523 kilometres
Main Line 5 (ML-5) Taxila–Khunjerab Line 682 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 Trains Routes
Akbar Express Quetta–Lahore Junction
Allama Iqbal Express Karachi City Station–Sialkot Junction
Attock Passenger Mari Indus–Attock City Junction
Awam Express Karachi City Station–Peshawar Cantonment
Babu Passenger Lahore Junction–Wazirabad Junction
Badar Express Lahore Junction–Faisalabad
Badin Express Hyderabad Junction–Badin
Bahauddin Zakaria Express Karachi City Station–Multan Cantonment
Bolan Mail Karachi City Station–Quetta
Chaman Mixed Quetta–Chaman
Chenab Express Sargodha Junction–LalaMusa Junction
Dhabeji Express Karachi Cantonment Station–Dhabeji
Faiz Ahmed Faiz Express Lahore Junction–Narowal Junction
Fareed Express Karachi City Station–Lahore Junction
Faisal Express Lahore Junction–Faisalabad
Faisalabad Express Multan Cantonment–Faisalabad
Ghouri Express Lahore Junction–Faisalabad
GreenLine Express Karachi Cantonment Station–Islamabad
Hazara Express Karachi City Station–Havelian
Islamabad Express Lahore Junction–Islamabad
Jaffar Express Peshawar–Quetta
Jand Passenger Jand Junction–Attock City Junction
Jinnah Express Karachi Cantonment Station–RawalpindiKarachi Cantonment Station–Lahore Cantonment
Karachi Express Karachi City Station–Lahore Junction
Kohat Express Rawalpindi–Kohat
Karakoram Express Karachi City Station–Lahore Junction
Khushhal Khan Khattak Express Karachi City Station–Peshawar Cantonment
Khyber Mail Karachi Cantonment Station–Peshawar Cantonment
Karana Passenger Lala Musa Junction–Sargodha Junction
Lasani Express Lahore Junction–Sialkot Junction
Lala Musa Express Lala Musa Junction–Sargodha Junction
Margalla Express Lahore Junction–Rawalpindi
Marala Passenger Wazirabad Junction–Narowal Junction
Mari Indus Express Mari Indus–Lahore Junction
Mianwali Express Mari Indus Junction–Lahore Junction
Multan Express Multan Cantonment–Lahore Junction
Mehran Express Karachi City Station–Mirpur Khas
Musa Pak Express Multan Cantonment–Lahore Junction
Meher Express Multan Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Mohenjo-Daro Express Rohri Junction–Kotri Junction
Millat Express Karachi City Station–Malakwal Junction
Mixed Passenger Multan Cantonment–Lahore Junction
Narowal Passenger Narowal Junction–Lahore Junction
Niazi Express Mari Indus–Lahore Junction
Pakistan Business Express Karachi Cantonment Station–Lahore Junction
Pakistan Express Karachi Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Rohi Fast Passenger Khanpur–Sukkur
Rehman Baba Express Peshawar Cantonment–Karachi Cantonment
Rawalpindi Express Lahore–Rawalpindi
Shah Hussain Express Karachi Cantonment Station–Lahore Junction
Samjhauta Express Lahore–Wagah
Shalimar Express Karachi Cantonment–Lahore Junction
Subak Kharam Express Lahore Junction–Rawalpindi
Shah Rukn-e-Alam Express Multan Cantonment–Karachi Cantonment
Subak Raftar Express Lahore Junction–Islamabad
Sukkur Express Karachi City Station–Jacobabad Junction
Sindh Express Karachi Cantonment–Sukkur
Sir Syed Express Karachi Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Shah Latif Bhattai Express Dhabeji–Mirpur Khas
Tezgam Express Karachi Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Thal Express Multan Cantonment–Rawalpindi
Thar Express Karachi Cantonment Station–Zero Point
Waris Shah Fast Lahore 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


For more related information, visit the Graana blog.