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Friday Jul 12 2019

Pakistan Railways witnessed two accidents per week since 2013

A record 80 accidents have occurred in the past 11 months, with at least 350 people lives lost. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways has witnessed at least two minor and two major per week since 2013, raising a serious question over the security of around five million passengers who catch 66 passengers trains to different destinations daily.

According to official data obtained from Pakistan Railways, nearly 350 people have lost their lives and 2,176 injured during this time period in 562 railways accidents occurred either on railway stations or its tracks.

Around 80 minor or major accidents have been recorded since Sheikh Rasheed took charge of the railways ministry.

Officials familiar with the development revealed that almost 60 per cent bridges (1300) bridges used for both the passengers’ trains and good trains have been met their dead end. Pakistan Railways met losses of some Rs2 billion due to these accidents accordingly, the official added.

The official further said different trains of Pakistan Railways met more than 562 accidents in past six years. Some 75 accidents in 2013, 70 in 2014, 104 in 2015, 89 in 2016, 78 in 2017, 67 in 2018 and 80 accidents in past 11 months. As many as 220 accidents were major and the rest of the incidents were considered minor.

The data further revealed there were 74 inquiries conducted to probe the reasons behind these accidents. Some 67 inquiries were finalised and 13 punishments were awarded to different individuals, according to data 'only lower staff was blamed for all these accidents and very rare conviction occurred, unfortunately."

As many as 26 officials are also facing investigation after they were accused of corruption or misusing their authority, revealed the officials who claimed that non-technical officials were railways' affairs, a major reason behind the great losses. "Our internal report says all trains tracks are needed to be revamped in no time. If it does not happen in coming months then the ratio of accidents (God forbid) would alarmingly rise," a senior officer of Pakistan Railways shared.

The data also revealed, some 38 of 66 operational trains met losses of over Rs1.6 billion in the past nine months. Bolan Mail suffered losses of Rs225 million, Samjhota Express (between India and Pakistan) Rs12 million, KKK Express Rs311, Ravi Express Rs101 million, Sandal Express Rs55 million, Sargodha Express Rs52 million, Chenab Express Rs43 million, Badin Express Rs53 million, Warish Shah Rs84 million, Karana Passengers met losses worth Rs67 million.

The data also revealed that Pakistan Railways has had only 2.9 litters HSD oil currently as a reservoir while it had reserves of 8.2 million litters in June last year.

Railways Minister Rasheed, has, however, blamed the previous governments for all the losses faced by the Pakistan Railways so far. "We are fixing the problem. We ran new trains on new routes, hoping to earn more profits in the coming months," he said while speaking to the press.

On Thursday, at least 21 people were killed while 84 others were injured when Akbar Bugti Express collided with a freight train at the Walhar Railway Station in Sadiqabad.

Among other major accidents that the Pakistan Railways has witnessed include is the 2015 train accident in Gujranwala in which 19 people, including a few military officers and soldiers, were killed when three bogies of a train fell into a canal, Some 21 passengers were killed when the Jaffar Express derailed on its way from Quetta to Rawalpindi in 2016.

More than 50 passengers died and hundreds of passengers were injured when after more than a dozen carriages derailed on its way to Karachi in 2007.

Some Rs16 billion have been allocated under PSDPs for Railways this year while Rs28 billion were allocated last year and Rs42 billion in 2017-18. The number of passengers has increased by 14,477 per day on an average during the last 10 months, the data further shared.

Similarly, passenger revenue of trains has increased by Rs15.631 million per day. In Pakistan, around 80 operational trains carry around 50 to 60 million passengers every year while in India, around 9,000 operational trains carry the same number of passengers in just three days time.