The Pakistan railway system is a fun and adventurous way to travel through the country and experience its rare beauty. There are many different trains which leave Karachi and give you the option to travel to different cities in the northern areas. A journey by train in Pakistan will give you the opportunity to meet all kinds of people, experience local foods, and see sights that are often missed out by the average traveler.
A Preview of the Journey
BBC Television created a series, ‘Great Railway Journeys’, where the presenter would make a journey by train. The sixth episode was hosted by Mark Tulley who took a ride from Karachi to the Khyber Pass. If you are thinking of making a similar voyage, viewing this episode would be a good way to warm up and give yourself an idea of what to expect.
A Journey into Time and History
For those who wish to understand what the country may have looked liked in the past, the Khyber train safari is sure to be a real treat. The train is pulled by two vintage steam engines built in the 1920s that takes passengers on a stunning 42 kilometer journey, mostly through mountainous terrain. During the ride you will have the unique pleasure of being taken through the Peshawar Airport runway. The Khyber train safari is the only railway in the world which passes through an airport.
Different Accommodations Available
Pakistan is a country of people from all different walks of life. Fittingly, the Pakistan railway system provides a large number of classes available to suit your comfort and financial restrictions. The classes are categorized as:
- Air-conditioned sleeper (recommended for long journeys)
- 1st class sleeper
- Air-conditioned lower class (available both in seat and sleeper versions)
- Parlor car (comfortable seating similar to that of an airplane. Recommended for daytime journeys or single night journeys)
- Economy class seats
- 2nd class (also available in seat and sleeper versions)
Tips for Traveling by Train:
- Make reservations in advance to avoid any inconveniences.
- Passes allow for several trips to be made within a region and are usually cheaper than buying individual tickets. See if these are available where you are going.
- Train stations are bustling with activity. Make sure all loose pieces of luggage are secured before the train arrives and that you are ready to board immediately and quickly.
- If you have a sensitive stomach, consider bringing your own food. The trains offer local food and there are eating options at all the train stations. However, these are all local Pakistani cuisines and may not be suitable for someone from outside the country.
- Bring along a book, a deck of cards, or a travel diary to keep yourself entertained at night when sights are not visible.
- Toilets are fishy business in the trains. Some are not so bad while others may not flush or even be unhygienic. Prepare yourself in advance for this potential challenge. Bring your own toilet role and sanitizer.
- Though trains are usually safe, make sure that your luggage is within your sight at all times.
- A travelling light will make it easier to get on and off the train.
Don’t Forget the Sights Along the Way
There are many sights to see in all the cities along the way. Go through the internet, travel books, documentaries and perhaps ask people you know who lives in Pakistan what they recommend to see. If you plan on doing this, ensure you have booked accommodations in advance and that you have a map of the city as well. Know how far you are going from the train station and the estimated time to return. Make the most of your train ride and have an adventure you’ll never forget!