PAKISTAN Railways (PR) has restored passenger service to the Sibi - Harnai line, following the completion of work to replace bridges damaged by separatists seeking independence for the province of Balochistan.

Passenger services had been withdrawn in February 2006.

In March 2016, a contract to replace bridges, track and other damaged infrastructure was awarded to the state-owned National Logistics Cell, now the National Logistics Corporation (NLC).

The contract also included the refurbishment of stations along the Sibi - Harnai line.

According to media reports, other contractors were unwilling to participate due to the scale of the task and the security situation prevailing in Balochistan.

“The track was made dysfunctional after a series of bomb blasts which damaged 22 steel bridges in this highly rugged and inaccessible area,” the Ministry of Railways said in a statement.

“The restoration of the railway between the two historical cities of Sibi and Harnai will have a positive impact on the economy and agriculture of the entire region,” according to the ministry.

“The rail link will not only enable students of the Harnai and Ziarat district to acquire higher education but will also boost economic and commercial activities in the region.”

The restoration of passenger service was marked by a ceremony held at Sibi railway station on October 29, which was addressed by Balochistan’s caretaker chief minister, Mr Ali Mardan Domki.

“It is a great honour for the caretaker government that it restored the train service,” he said, adding that PR is also due to resume operating the Bolan Mail between Sibi and Harnai on December 25, followed by the Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Express at a later date.

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