Thirteen carriages have been lovingly restored into a sleek sleeper to ply the 1,200 kilometres (800 miles) between Pakistan’s two biggest cities, Lahore and Karachi, on an 18-hour journey that once used to take upwards of 30 hours.
For 5,000 rupees one way, or 9,000 rupees return, passengers are waited on by a bevy of attentive stewards, as they settle down to watch films on flat-screen TVs or power up laptops.
Afternoon tea and piping hot dinner — courtesy of chefs at five-star hotels are borne into cabins as uniformed guards carrying rifles in the corridors are a reminder of a country troubled by kidnappings, Taliban and Al-Qaeda violence.
Then as night falls, stewards come round with crisp bed linen to turn slightly hard green bunks into inviting beds.
It’s all part of a first private investment of millions of rupees in the ailing state railways, billed as the last hope of preventing a much-loved relic of British rule from falling into ruin.
It relies on handouts of $2.8 million a month just to pay salaries and pensions, and faces expected losses of $390 million in the current fiscal year.