LAHORE (Haider Ali) – Rail transport has been dubbed as the most efficient and swift way of transportation throughout the world owing to the fact that it’s track is bound to one destination and path is designated, but the rail transportation system has hit a bad patch in Pakistan.
Though Pakistan Railways took a nose dive during PPP stint, it showed signs of considerable growth under the current Government but a recent spree of train accidents might mar the upward trajectory of the organisation.
Train accidents are common throughout the world but Pakistan Railways is witnessing such incidents in a burgeoning number.
The latest train collision took place today (Thursday) when two passenger trains named Zakaria Express and Fareed Express rammed into each other near Landhi railway station.
At least 17 people have been reported dead hitherto, apart from scores of others who were left injured during the collision. Apparently, the collision took place due to wrong signal.
On October 6, at least 4 people were left dead while 19 others were left severely wounded when a freight train collided with a passenger bus near Lunda Phatak in Pattoki. According to police officials, the accident took place due to the negligence of Pakistan Railways gatekeeper as the Lunda Phatak railway crossing was left open while the freight train was approaching.
Another catastrophe happened just a day after when twin blasts hit Jaffar Express near Mach. the incident left four passengers dead.
The misery does not culminate here. On September 15, at least 6 people were killed and over 150 injured when Karachi-bound Awam Express collided with a freight train near Bucch railway station in Sher Shah, Multan. According to local officials, the incident took place when a freight train overran a man some 25 km away from Multan and in the mean time Awam Express, coming from Peshawar using the same rail line, collided with the carriages of the train.
Another tragic train accident took place on the same day when a train hit a vehicle at railway crossing in Rawalpindi. The accident left three people dead while four faced injuries. The incident took place at Hatar Phatak in Fateh Jang. Reports suggest crossing was left opened which caused the accident.
In July, Pakistan railways faced another reputation blow when around 20 passengers were injured after a train was derailed and overturned in Khanewal. Five bogies of the Pakistan Express train were derailed injuring kids and women.
During May, two individuals died after being struck by the trains, one of whom lost his life due to lack of railway crossing gates.
In February, at least eleven people were killed and several others injured when a train crashed into a truck near Tando Jam. The tragedy happened largely due to gateless railway crossing of Village Mureed Sipiyo.
2015 was also not a good year for Pakistan Railways citing the accidents that dent its stature.
In November, at least seventeen people died while another 150 were seriously wounded when Jaffar Express derailed near Aabgum area in Bolan. The Accident took place when four bogies and engine of the train skid off from the railway line due to break-fail , on way to Rawalpindi.
Another train accident happened in July when about four bogies of a special train bound for Kharian carrying military troops derailed over Chanawan Bridge near Jamke Chattha and fell down in the canal. At least 17 people were killed as a result.
In October 2014, the accident between a freight train and the Lahore-bound Business Express departing from Karachi killed the driver of the passenger train.
Another train related tragedy befell in may when two people were killed as the engine and four bogies of the Karakoram Express derailed near Bandhi railway station.
According to Pakistan railways officials as many as 129 passengers were killed and 965 injured during the last ten years as a result of rail accidents largely due to unmanned level crossings and unauthorised railways crossings
The burning question behind the burgeoning train accident is still to be answered.
It is ascertained that trains offer a safe way of travelling across the globe but why it is not the same for our country.
Multiple factors contribute to the failure of the system.
Firstly, Pakistan Railways is using out-dated technology. The analogue signal system is obsolete but in many parts of the country, Pakistan railways is still harnessing the system and major accidents are being caused due to this.
Secondly, Pakistan Railways need to make the transportation system state of the art by repeated up gradation from trains to the backend control centres.
Many a times accidents are occurred due to the harrowing fact that the signal was not properly transmitted to the driver of oncoming train resulting in casualties.
Efficient train management system should be in place based on digital technology to give a real time integration between the control centre and train driver.
And lastly, multiple reports have been put forth regarding the insecurity of Pakistan railways but the government apparently looks to be doing something more important.
According to a report by Dunya Newspaper, over 2400 crossing points in the country have been termed as dangerous including 75 in Punjab but on a large-scale no such arrangements have been made to mitigate the losses incurred as a result of train collisions.
The concerned officials particularly the Railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique should ponder over the solutions to uplift the transportation system by making it more safe and swift.