M A I N   N E W S

Trial run of Amritsar-Lahore bus launched
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, December 11
Bhangra and Pakistani band greeted the golden Amritsar-Lahore bus, “Punj-Ab” (meaning five rivers), with flags of both nations painted on it at the zero line during its trial run here today. Both countries have launched the trial run of the bus service linking Amritsar and Lahore. “I am so happy that I cannot express my feelings in words,” bus driver Amrik Singh told The Tribune.

The bus started from the International Youth Hostel, Amritsar, which has been made the international terminal for the bus service, at about 9 am. The bus carried nine persons and would return to Amritsar tomorrow. The nine persons who crossed over to Pakistan included Deputy Commissioner Amritsar Kirandip Singh Bhullar, Transport Secretary (Punjab) A.K. Talwar, Director (Punjab Transport) Narinderjit Singh, State Transport Commissioner Iqbal Singh Sidhu, two drivers, two liaison officers and an official of the Punjab Roadways. They were received by Brig Hasham Khan, Commissioner, Pakistan Transport Department, and senior officials of Pakistan.

Unlike the Lahore-Delhi bus service which is non-stop, the Amritsar-Lahore bus would provide an option for passengers to cross the border using the local transport. The Lahore-New Delhi bus service hardly benefits residents of Amritsar.

The Amritsar-Nankana Sahib service, has also been agreed on by both sides. Technical talks are scheduled to be held on December 20-21 in Pakistan to finalise the modalities, including the trial run of the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib service.

The regular bus service between Amritsar and Lahore is likely to be flagged off from December 23. The trial run of the bus had been postponed following the earthquake in Pakistan on October 8.

The bus from Lahore to Amritsar would start from Gulberg,. The Indian bus is scheduled to go to Pakistan every Tuesday and come back on Wednesday while the Pakistan bus is scheduled to come to India on Friday and depart on Saturday. India would be using a Volvo bus which is air-conditioned and has all de luxe facilities.

The Punjab Government has decided to purchase four more vehicles at a cost of Rs 2.70 crore which would ply from Amritsar to Lahore and Nankana Sahib. The fair from Amritsar would be Rs 750 while the return ticket would be Rs 900 (Pakistan currency). Senior officials of the state government today said that the Indian Government was keen to open a visa office in Amritsar.


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