Pak Business Express Train – good, but far from great

Published: July 1, 2012

The Pak Business Train: Royal treatment isn't exactly what one should expect. PHOTO: FILE

Recently, I travelled through the Pak Business Express train that runs between Karachi and Lahore and is a comparatively new venture within the railway scene of Pakistan. Don’t cringe yet; this was all before the recent protests where passenger trains were set on fire and before Pakistan Railways temporarily suspended services of trains travelling from Lahore to Rawalpindi.

I was accompanied by over 70 people, all headed to Islamabad via Lahore to attend the reunion of YES students. Our tickets were pre-funded and averaged Rs10,oo0 per person for a round trip. I remember receiving the tickets and being in the doldrums at the thought of spending 18 hours in the train, but to my surprise the train ride wasn’t all that bad.

However despite LCD equipped and air-conditioned cabins, Pak Business Express still has a long way to go before it can pull off the ‘World Class Lahore to Karachi Travelling’ tagline.

First of all, the administration needs to focus on punctuality. The departure from Karachi was three hours late and the departure from Lahore was delayed by an hour and a half. The wait in Karachi was still bearable because the air conditioners worked and the abundance of courteous staff made sure to serve everyone tea and refreshments. However, waiting for the train in Lahore was nothing short of excruciating; the so-called cafeteria didn’t have chilled water or drinks and the air-conditioners refused to work in the scorching heat of Lahore.

I suggest that if the train is expected to be late, passengers must be informed in advance – especially if the administration continues to keep the air-conditioners and cafeterias only for decoration purposes.

On the way to Lahore, the train was comparatively neat; the bedding looked dry-cleaned and the berths didn’t stink. Food was served hot and in bulk– it didn’t taste too bad either! I believe that a tad bit of manipulation in the breakfast menu could have really made a positive difference. Toasted bread would have been nicer, for example, than the untoasted slices we received. The parathas that we received were cold and chewy. Maybe a bun akin to the one served by PIA would be a more economical and tasty option.

The air-conditioning, though, made it increasingly cold at night when even multiple blankets failed to help the shivering passengers in my cabin. When we asked the staff to turn the air-conditioning down, first they didn’t respond clearly and on being asked again, we were told that nothing could be done about it because the technicians were asleep!

Furthermore, a whole lot of excessive food was dumped right off the train when it could have fed so may people at the Rohri or Khanewaal station– I could only cringe at this blatant display of unethical business practice.

Coming back from Lahore turned into a nightmare right after we boarded the train– five of our cabins were double booked and the staff wasn’t accommodating at all. Though we retained four of our double booked cabins, the journey back to Karachi was still not pleasant. The bedding was stained and smelly, the cabins weren’t clean, the door knob of our cabin was broken, the food was cold and tasted awful, the internet didn’t work, and the staff was indifferent to our concerns.

As wonderful as the idea of this business express train between Lahore and Karachi is, it’s very important to keep up its quality for its successful running and a revival in Pakistan’s railway scene. Even slight negligence from the administration and flaws in services could really upset the passengers because people are already quite discontented with the Pakistani railway system.

While I would recommend that everyone give this new project a shot despite its glitches, I also suggest that the administration of the Pak Business Express train should take notice of its shortcomings.

Read more by Komal Ali here. 

Komal Ali

Komal Ali

Born and raised in Pakistan, Komal Ali is an International Relations major and Law and Public Policy nexus minor at Mount Holyoke College. She is currently doing a Pre-Law certificate at University of Amsterdam. She tweets at @komalali92 (twitter.com/Komalali92)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Bam Margera

    It’s time to bring high speed trains in Pakistan, the journey from KHI to LHR wouldn’t be more than 3 hours and PIA would be shut out of business.Recommend

  • Ali tanoli

    Lal Lagam thats what PR is…Recommend

  • ConfusedCitizen

    welcome to train travel in PK. You got off easy.Recommend

  • http://www.pakbusinessexpress.com mian shafqat ali

    Dear Komal Ali
    i am director operation in pak business express
    we noted all your points and we will try our best to recover these draw backs
    thanksRecommend

  • Hassan Saeed

    This is such a descriptive piece of writing, defining ways and actually allowing me to go through the highlights of the train expedition. Though I missed the train ride from Karachi with you people but after reading this, I would definitely go ahead and have my first train ride. Well written Komal! Recommend

  • Shahzeb Younis

    I remember travelling on this train and having the exactly same experience. Officials really need to provide the services they advertise!Recommend

  • Aown Kazmi

    Lahore is definitely worth it.
    All that trouble (if there was any). I personally prefer the old broken down trains, more close to an adventure. hahaRecommend

  • aizaz bokhari

    that is a fine example of ‘experience worth sharing.’

    “Furthermore, a whole lot of excessive food was dumped right off the train when it could have fed so may people at the Rohri or Khanewaal station– I could only cringe at this blatant display of unethical business practice.”

    what a shame for the administration of the business train! Recommend

  • Mohammad

    next time don’t travel by train, try PIA. what I am trying to understand is that if Train Starts from Karachi, it is nice and pleasant.. and if it starts from Lahore..it’s awful!

    Anyway, I hope the management will look into your thoughts and will try to fix these things. Recommend

  • Parvez

    You certainly have a high threshold for miserable service. Thanks for bringing your experience up because there are conflicting reports on this service, some say its great.Recommend

  • Furqan

    Its really nice to express your views. I work at Pak Business Express, it would be highly appreciated if you could tell me the exact date on which you travelled from Lahore to Karachi and if you also remember the bogey number so I can tell my seniors about this incident and they could take strict action. ThankyouRecommend

  • Z.Baloch

    Well i recently traveled in Pak Business train from lhr to khi …. it was a good experience … train started its journey on exact time and we reached khi on fix time. Cabins were clean and staff was much cooperative. I only agree with writer on the issue of breakfast, “Parathas” were cold :) ….. Those who travel in other Govt Trains would definitely find Pak Business Train a fresh ray of hope …. Pak Business Train Thumbs Up ! Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/shariq.jamil Shariq Jamil

    Very well written, Komal. However I traveled via business express from Lahore to Karachi last week and it was extremely punctual. It left Lahore like 15 minutes late but reached Karachi right on time. I think it was 15 minutes before the right time. Plus the service was immaculate. I feel the consistency is lacking. They need to work on that.Recommend

  • http://Karachi. Farah Kamal

    @mian shafqat ali: Impressed by your prompt response to this blog. Thankyou for being there and listening. I also want to point your attention to the fact that the reason for delayed train was the fact that a train carry some higher official of Pakistan Railway was in the track in the front and he was late and refused to leave track for this train to move. Please check into this as well. It was 13th June 2012.Recommend

  • Ayesha

    I recently travelled in the business train too. Had a lot of fun and it was on time. However the BIGGEST issue was the washroom. I request the people who work for this train to please do something about the dirty bathrooms. PLEASE! Other than that all was good enough.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/613/komal-ali/ Komal Ali

    @Mian Shafqat Ali

    Thank you for responding to this review. I hope the flaws will be taken care of.

    @Furqan

    Thank you for taking notice of the complains. We left from Lahore on June 17th and reached Karachi on June 18th. Recommend

  • Umair

    @mian shafqat ali:
    Mian saab i really appreicate your efforts to provide best customer services/ and travelling quality in pakistan. we had a conversation once when you were travelling Khi- Lhr and you seemed brave enough to get customer feedback personally…. and how can i forget the Rs. 500 compensation you granted as LCD in my cabin was not working. Highly appreciated! May be I see you someother time in train as im your satisfied customer. Recommend

  • adeel

    when I see PR today, it really hurts, as we have our childhood memories attached to it. we must transform our railway from diesel to Electric trains, which are lighter in weight, faster than locomotives, and easy to maintain. Electricity can be produced for Railway by one time investment of Solar Panels of almost 2 miles, producing 3500 MWs of electricity… Think about it, when there is a will there is a way, i guess government not interested in solving problems of Common people.Recommend

  • ovais khan

    @mian shafqat ali :indeed its great to know any official from the express has taken consideration about the issues i implore you to please dont let shatter the trust and image build up on your quality and your promises
    @komal : you wrote the blog just at the right time before another project towards prosperity of our country will bog down hats off to you and hoping some more quality blogs from but after some conclusive research and on concrete and worth considering topicsRecommend

  • Muhammad Amir Hashmi

    @Komal Ali : Thanks allot Komal to inform us about your trip.

    First time in my life I have purchased train ticket from KHI to LHE and LHE to KHI just because I saw business train website and inspired. My plan is to go to lahore on 14 july and comeback with family on 16 july 2012. I have booked one person seat for going to lahore and 6 persons seats from coming to lahore.

    I am so scare to see this blog. I am thinking to change my plan as right now I have a option to cancel booking.

    I really inspired to see neat and clean cabin with multimedia. Also to see water dispensers of mineral water and neat washroom snapshots.

    @mian shafqat ali : Dear Mian Sahib can you assure me to give us pretty good services during our journey. I don’t want to take bad impression first time traveling in a train.

    ThanksRecommend

  • Cynical

    Very few write travelogue these days.Please keep writing.Recommend

  • Zalim Singh

    In Pakistan? WOW.Recommend

  • Saima Asim

    Our journey from karachi to lahore was quite pleasant ! Cabins were clean but the washrooms were an issue … I just hope that the journey back should be good enough .Recommend

  • http://eais.com.pk Abdulqadir Hasan Faruqi

    I have traveled several times by now on Business Express train and my journey either from Karachi to Lahore or from Lahore to Karachi was always extremely comfortable and pleasant. Though by profession I am working for the Airlines and can easily avail Free Ticket Facility particularly on domestic sectors but in March after hearing so much about Business Express Train I decided to give it a try and believe me my decision proved right and after that we stopped traveling by Air and used the train 6 times. We always found Courteous staff, Good food and exceptionally good punctuality even once we departed Lahore two & half hours late but reached Karachi only 45 minutes late and we crossed Karakoram Express which departed Lahore on time at Jhimpir. The train has come up with a better alternate for those who would like to enjoy Airlines Experience and Hospitality at zero meter altitude and the fun they will have is a BONUS. I iwsh Mr.Mian Shafqat Ali very best wishes and hope that he will introduce few more projects to cater the increasing demand of the services he is providing. I also wish that The media should support instead giving the wrong picture. The people of Pakistan should also back up and give full support to the Business Express Team for their encouragement. KEEP IT UP SIR

    Thanks and very best Regards
    Abdulqadir Hasan faruqi
    Director Admin and Ops EAIS Recommend

  • http://www.pakbusinessexpress.com mian shafqat ali

    thanks Abdulqadir Hasan faruqi
    as i wrote before that we will improve in future
    we are working hard on it
    we are working to short time duration by next year
    i mean we want to reduce traveling time from 18 hours to 15 hours in 2013
    and then we will introduce first class with more comfort
    thanks for your support your comments are very valuable for us
    Mian Shafqat Ali Recommend

  • Muhammad Amir Hashmi

    Having to see Mr. Faruqi comments I am feeling relax as I am going to Lahore today and comeback with family on Monday. Everyone should write here after travel so porn and corns will be seen easily also management can take action for good.

    Muhammad Amir Hashmi

    Manager IT

    Bolan Castings LimitedRecommend

  • http://www.pakbusinessexpress.com mian shafqat ali

    Mr Muhammad Amir Hashmi
    in case you feel any problem during traveling contact train manager
    50 persons are on board to help our guest
    shafqatRecommend

  • Yousuf

    I love travelling in Pakistani trains, my favourite is “AC Sleeper” with attached bath but now it has become really expensive (KHI-RWP is 6000 Rs) I wish they lower the fare little bit.
    Can anyone tell me where i can get more details on Business express, are there cabins if yes what size and is it with attached bath.

    RegardsRecommend

  • http://www.pakbusinessexpress.com mian shafqat ali

    Dear yusaf
    in pak business express all a/c business class
    all are compartment
    in one compartment 6 person sit and sleep
    for more information you can visit our website http://www.pakbusinessexpress.com
    or call us 111 723 724
    Mian Shafqat AliRecommend

  • Yousuf

    Dear Shafqat,

    Your quick response is really appreciated.
    There are 02 classes Business and Budget, what is the difference and I read earlier you book cheaper the fair is, how does that work.

    RegardsRecommend

  • http://www.pakbusinessexpress.com mian shafqat ali

    Dear yusaf
    business class means
    your meals are included
    we serve
    1. news paper
    2. 600 ml water bottle
    3. hi tea including tea/soft drink 4 biscuit 1 cup cake i potato sticks
    4. dineer by p.c. hotel include pulao, chicken curry, dal, nan, salad, raita sweet dish and tea
    5. break fast including omelet, 2 toast, butter, jam, partha, and tea

    in budget class we do not sreve these things
    if you have more questions
    feel free
    Mian Shafqat AliRecommend

  • Yousuf

    Q: What is the difference between classes?

    A: All classes offer same facilities except fare. The earlier you reservation, the better fare you get.

    What does this meanRecommend

  • http://www.pakbusinessexpress.com mian shafqat ali

    @Yousuf:
    basic facilities are same
    like a/c
    bedding including bed sheet pillow and blanket and filtered water
    if you book earlier there is some discount
    we are not offering any package right now because we are full for next 10 days
    we will offer Ramadan package for 15 days only
    Mian Shafqat AliRecommend

  • Syed Muhammad Sirtaj

    @Bam Margera:
    Do we have the tracks to run them ? Emotions are essential in life but getting carried away with is is foolish.

    We are far far away to achieve this ?Recommend

  • http://eais.com.pk Abdulqadir Hasan Faruqi

    @Muhammad Amir Hashmi:
    Wish you a very pleasant journey. You will definitely enjoy for sure. Recommend

  • Farrukh Malik

    If you move from Karachi to Lahore then everything in the train is avaerage the staff and the food. But if you move from Lahore to Karachi its worst. This is my experience and I traveled only one time so to confirm it I talked to different friends and relatives and they said absolutely same. I traveled from Lahore to Karachi on 16th July 2012 in coach 2. First of all I noticed that the staff had their friends on board or they were the other railway staff whatever they were, they were not passenger like us who booked the seats. Then in the toilets tissues vanish immediately and were not refilled and the hand wash soaps were finished and were not refilled until I called the business train office and complained. I understand that we the people of Pakistan do not use things good and we like to mess up but there should be a good management that can show to us that we are wrong they are not. The AC of cabins c to G were not functioning and they did not cool at all. The staff never closed doors of corridors, and then came the food, smelly, rotten and rice were missing and then I saw outside the cabin all un registered passengers (friends of staff) were eating the rice which were supposed to be eaten by us. So overall its a really bad experience in this much money. Tez Gam and Korakaram are way far better than business express yes they get late but at least we don’t have to regret anything in the service. Totally disappointed and will never travel again in business trainRecommend

  • Muhammad Amir Hashmi

    @mian shafqat ali :

    My journey from Karachi to Lahore on 14 and Lahore to Karachi on 16-july was not bad. I would like to write some words for improvement.

    There is no medical facility I found during traveling. My son got down from third berth during sleep I called for medical help but staff said we have nothing this time. I have read on website “Emergency support through onboard para-medical staff”. It Needs your attention.
    The condition of food / meal was not good when supply to us also test of meal was not understandable. See no one say the food of five star hotel is very testy. Everyone say Larosh, Bar BQ tonight, Ghaffar, Sajjad, Mateen Foods, mazidar foods, student biryani or foods of burns road is very testy in Karachi. Just like this Lahore would also have well known caters which supply testy foods. The only thing which five star hotels have is their environment and it has worth that’s why we pay more. No need to reduce price but need to serve quality food with standard quantity. You see everyone complain about it. You must take it seriously .
    Train needs communication system during travel. I have seen speaker is already there. If train stop in any unknown place nobody knows why it stop and where we are. Every couple of hours name of the place where we are going thorough should be announced.
    Recommend

  • umer

    Well Done… this article attracted attention of Mr. Shafqat Ali.. KUDOS!Recommend

  • http://NIL RAJA GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN ADOWALLIYA PRESS ESSAY WRITER & SOCIAL WORKER

    To
    The Honourable Prime Minister Of Pakistan,
    PM SECTT, ISLAMABAD

    R/Sir,
    The corrupted officers of Pakistan Railways have given a great financial lopsses to our government of Pakistan . Now most of the passengers are become so dishearted that they prefer to travel from buses or from PIA Flight .
    R/Sir,

    Recently, The Pakistan Railway has introduced a new train name BUSINESS EXPRES but I think that it is no any assurance from the chairman railway that this train would be provided agood service for the passengers.I have traveled many Nos of times to travel in AC Sleeper compartment of KARACHI EXPRESS, KHYBERMAIL, TEZGAM TRAINS FROM KARACHI TO RAWALPINDI and vice versa but I did not find any good service in such trains..MY COMPLAINTS ARE THE FOLLOWING

    1)- BAD SMELT MEALS are being served to the passengers in broken plates and utensils.
    The standard of meals are of such types that even DOGS dont like to eat such meals.

    2)- Fake and poisonous averages are being sold to passengers.It means that railway officers want to kill the passengers

    3)- It is openly stated by all caterer contractors that Chairman Railway, Divisional Superintendents and Commercial officers are receiving BHUTTA million of Rupees from the caterter contractors-

    4)- There is someoften no water in the toilets

    5)-There is not existed any Complaint Register in the compartment gaurd, caterer contractors
    etc

    6) if any complaint about unsatisfactory service are being made to chairman pakistan railway, then no any action are being made upon passengers complaints.

    7)- the rates of cancellation charges are very high . It should be 10% just 12 hours before departure of trains just like PIA RULES AND REGULATIONS.

    8)- Most passengers of Lahore, karachi like to travel by PIA Flight by paying only Rupees 7000/- in the night couch and 9000 in the day times flight. or to travel in DAEWOO BUS LUXURY SERVICE.

    9)- Hence it is the main reason that most persons dont like to travel from Business Express.

    10)- There is only one solution of redressing of such complaints .

    a)- No any officer of pakistan railways should be remained for more than one year on the same post.After one year , all officers should be transfered to any other post in theothers govt offices.

    b) There should set up one special complaint cell in the PM Sectt in which ,all passengers complaints should be received through emails for takinf prompt action against corrupted railway officers by termination of their services.

    d)- The best solution to improve the department of railways is that this department should be handed over to pakistan army for ten years. only strict administration of army control can set right the department of pakistan railway in properly and improved position and can earn the good profitable services

    11- In views of the abovementioned facts, I am of the opinion that pakistan railways sytem can not be improved by immediately termination of services of Chairman, Divisional superintendents and others corrupted staff of the railways.If such position is prevailed in future, then corrupted officers will give a great financial losses to the govt of Pakiostan hence termination of services of the top responsible officers is a must in order to made the Pakistan Railway a profitable department

    I hope that Prime Minister of Pakistan will surely act on my suggestion in order to set right the most worst working system of Pakistanb railways.
    Thanking you in anticipation

    RAJA GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN ADOWALIYA
    MA (Political Sc ience )
    PRESS ESSAY WRITER
    HOUSE NO -5, STREET NO-10, IQBAL TOWN, RAWALPINDI,Recommend