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LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways faced more than 100 accidents including Tezgam fire tragedy in October 2019, claiming more than 200 precious human lives during the last two years - 2019-20.

According to Railways management, over 100 train-related incidents, including some fatal accidents, took place in 2019-20. Besides, 111 incidents of engine failure were reported within first five months of this year alone, claimed an official.

According to sources, the main accidents included horrible derailment of eight wagons of a freight/container train near Rahim Yar Khan (Taranda) on April 1, derailment of a goods/container train near Padedan Station (Sindh) on May 18, derailment of Thal Express near Kundian on May 21, derailment of Jafar Express near Gujjar Khan on May 30, fire incident Jinnah Express dining car near Harappa (Sahiwal) on June 18, accidents of Jinnah Express near Hyderabad on June 20, parting of a running Pakistan Express train in two portions near Khanewal on July 11, accident of Akbar Express and a goods train at Walhar Station on July 12, derailment of Zakria Express and a goods train near Kotri and Rohri stations on July 23, Tezgam train fire tragedy on Oct 30, accident of Sargodha Express with a dumper truck on Dec 10 and derailment of Jinnah Express near Lahore Railway Station on Dec 17.

According to sources, 75 passengers lost their lives while over 100 injured in Tezgam fire incident alone. Similarly, 21 people were killed and about 90 were injured in Akbar Express accident. Three drivers lost their lives in Jinnah Express's Hyderabad accident while some passengers also received injuries in this accident. The driver of Sargodha Express lost his life after the train hit a dumper truck.

These various incidents not only disrupted the PR's operations badly. All these accidents put the PR officers in hot water as they had to face inquires and suspensions. Some officials seeking anonymity cited lack of interest in resolving genuine issues and 'politically motivated and cosmetic work' approaches as main reasons for surge in derailments and accidents in the railways.

"Despite reviewing its priorities, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed didn't hear the officers opposing the PR passenger train operations on the outdated/dilapidated main and branch lines with decaying coaches," they added.

"The minister often ignored ground realities and continued making tall claims of running new trains and increasing revenue. He is also more interested in doing politics instead of focusing more on railways," a senior officer maintained.

A passenger, Naeem, who is used to travelling in Pakistan Railways, said that keeping in view the past experiences of 2019-20 the PR should better revisit its plan and policies and make it in line with the 'security and safety of the passengers first' instead of giving preference to revenue generation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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