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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
India and Pakistan keep rail link
Pakistani passengers
Pakistani passengers in Amritsar, India
India and Pakistan have agreed to keep the only passenger train link running between the two countries - the Samjhauta Express.

Officials from the two countries met at the border at Wagah, after Pakistan threatened on Saturday to withdraw its rolling stock for the service.

Pakistan argued that it had had to bear the costs of running the service since 1994, and that it was India's turn to share the burden.

Indian coaches

The Indian authorities said they agreed to provide the necessary rail coaches for the train with immediate effect.

Both sides are said to have made several other proposals to improve the service, including an Indian suggestion to increase the current bi-weekly service to a daily run.

The proposals are expected to be discussed at another meeting later this month.

The Samjhauta Express
The only India-Pakistan rail link
Connects Lahore with Amritsar
Carries some 6,000 passengers weekly

The Samjhauta Express service was launched after the Simla Agreement in 1972.

Although services were disrupted for a while after the demolition of the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya in December 1992, they resumed in early 1993.

Vital link

The service between the Pakistani city of Lahore and Amritsar in northern India carries some 6,000 passengers weekly.

Friday's talks marked the first significant contact between the two countries since the military coup in Pakistan last October.

The two countries also set up a bus link after a landmark summit between Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his then Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in February 1999.

The bus and train links have survived despite the recent flare-up in the Kashmir conflict and the military coup in Pakistan.

Pakistan and India, which gained independence from Britain in 1947, have fought three wars since then, two of them over Kashmir.

The chairman of Pakistan Railways, Javed Ashraf, said he was satisfied that India had "realised the need for strictly complying with the 1991 agreement on the Samjhauta Express". The agreement bound each side to provide engines and coaches for the service.

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11 Apr 00 | South Asia
Indo-Pakistan rail link in jeopardy
11 Apr 00 | South Asia
Pakistan to axe India rail link?
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