Train drivers call for improving rail track and signal system


-Shams Pervaiz says Mianwali express launched only to please PM Imran even though there was less passenger traffic on that section

Drivers and assistant drivers of the Pakistan Railways (PR) have urged the department to invest on the improvement of the rail track and signal system, warning that they would have no option but to start stopping trains at signals if immediate work was not initiated on rehabilitating the system.

Talking to a local media outfit, Train Drivers Association Chairman Chaudhry Shams Pervaiz rejected the recent preliminary investigation by the Federal Government Inspector of Railways, which held the driver and assistant driver responsible for the accident of Akbar express with a goods train at Walhar railway station.

“It’s an attempt to hide the failure of the signaling system. We reject the report and demand the top PR authorities expose those responsible for system failure and those who continue ignoring the dilapidated condition of the track that needs repair after every two years,” he said.

The association, which represents 2,600 drivers, has shown reservations over the preliminary FGIR report on the train tragedy and also set a deadline of August 31 to the PR top authorities for removing deficiencies in the system besides maintaining the track, especially the existing main line-1 (ML-1), failing which its members would start stopping trains at signals (whether green or not).

“The signaling system is defective. Similarly, the track condition is also very bad. So, how can we save our and passengers’ lives? In the situation, when more accidents cannot be ruled out, the PR administration continues running new trains,” Pervaiz said.

Commenting on the Mianwali express that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, Pervaiz said, “Everyone knows well that why this train is being launched. It is just a bid to please the prime minister. The section remained closed for many years as there was a meager number of passengers.”

“Why passengers will travel to Lahore from Sargodha by train that reaches the destination in five hours or so, while the road journey is just two hours or so?” he maintained.

He said due to the bad condition of the track, signaling system, derailments, accidents etc, the entire train operation had been in troubles for the last couple of months.