Deadly Train Accident: Akbar Express Driver And His Assistant Held Responsible In Initial Report
A Railways team in its initial report has held the Akbar Express driver and his assistant responsible for the Thursday’s deadly accident near Walhar Railway Station in Sadiqabad.
DAWN in a report said the team comprises lower cadre technical staff and its report is called ‘joint certificate’ in the PR correspondence. Another investigation team working under the Federal Government Inspector for Railways will submit its findings later.
Putting the entire blame on driver Maqsood Ahmad and assistant driver Arsalan, the joint certificate said they were supposed to halt the Akbar Express at the outer signal but they overshot it and consequently the Quetta-bound train rammed into the stationary goods train.
A senior official said the investigation official found two relays of the interlocking system burnt that showed the signaling system was defective. He said staff at the Walhar station had made them operational temporarily by inserting match sticks in the equipment/instrument.
It was third train accident in less than 20 days and 18th collision/derailment in less than a year – the time the incumbent Sheikh Rashid Ahmed held the charge of the railways ministry.
Following the incident, social media erupted with severe criticism of Sheikh Rashid and the PTI government which in the past demanded resignation of their political opponent and former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on similar occasions.
Read more: Yet Another Deadly Accident: 18 Dead, 80 Wounded As Akbar Express Collides With Stationary Freight Train
On the other hand, DAWN reported that the official said the on-duty points man whose prime job was to keep the points in order in coordination with the station master, was actually performing the duties of ASM at the time of the accident.
“As the ASM was absent from his office, the points man was monitoring and operating the system (panel) to receive and depart trains. He received the train without settling the points that put Akbar Express on the loop line where a parcel/ freight train was already present,” he maintained.
On the other hand, the injured train driver, while talking to a private news channel, insisted that the signal was green but the train was diverted to the loop line.
According to the official, the investigation team got arrested the Walhar station ASM after some people produced him before the senior officials. An FIR was also lodged against him.
“However, the points man, who was earlier detained by the railway police, was released for time being after the PR union representing the points men threatened to observe strike,” the official said.
According to the official, if the system’s failure and other technical issues are described as core reasons behind the incident, many senior officers may face major punishments / penalties. “So by holding the poor driver and his assistant responsible, they may avoid such a situation,” he said.