Hazara Express tragedy: 6 railway officials suspended

Hazara Express tragedy: 6 railway officials suspended

Six Pakistan Railways officials, including two 18-grade officers, were suspended on Tuesday in connection with last week’s derailment of the Hazara Express near Nawabshah, which left at least 30 people deceased and scores injured.

Sunday, ten bogeys of the Havelian-bound Hazara Express derailed near the Sarhari Railway Station in the Sanghar district of Sindh, with Pakistan Railways (PR) officials citing a broken rail and a heated axle as the cause.

However, the Minister of Railways, Saad Rafique, stated that neither sabotage nor mechanical failure could be ruled out. He also deemed the railway track to be in good condition.

Later, a six-person team was assembled to investigate the incident.

In accordance with Rule-5 of the Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020, the Ministry of Railways announced today in a notification that six officers have been suspended with “immediate effect” and pending further orders in relation to the incident.

A divisional executive engineer from Sukkur, a diesel workshop manager from Karachi, an assistant executive engineer from Nawabshah, a permanent way officer from Shahdadpur, Kotri’s power controller, and a keyman were among the aforementioned officials.

The suspension comes one day after a departmental investigation into the derailment revealed that missing fishplates and a damaged track were responsible for the derailment of the Hazara Express.

“After investigating from all angles, we determined that the accident occurred due to a broken new rail and missing fishplates,” the report stated.

The crew also identified locomotive skidding as a contributing factor to the derailment.

The locomotive departed the site without being inspected by senior subordinates. In addition, “little hitting spots” were discovered on the iron fishplates and wooden terminal beyond the site of impact. It stated, “Therefore, the engineering branch and mechanical branch are held accountable for this accident.”

The document also stated that sabotage cannot be ruled out because the derailed carriages were dragged for approximately 250 metres. Additionally, the report contained two dissenting remarks.

The Federal Government Inspector of Railways (an officer of grade 22) is currently on-site to determine the cause of this calamity, according to his statement.

Minister identifies two causes of railway derailment
Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique has refuted assertions that wooden pieces were used to attach the derailed train’s bogies.

Today in the National Assembly, the minister highlighted two contributing factors to the incident that resulted in fatalities.

“Initially, lubricants were used to liberate the two locomotive wheels that were jammed behind the engine. “As a safety precaution, these locomotives should have been removed completely,” said the minister.

He elaborated that the second factor, a defect in the rail top, exacerbated the issue.

The minister disclosed that a preliminary investigation resulted in the suspension of six officials and promised that a full report on the incident would be available within a few days.

He emphasized that a portion of the railway track between Rohri and Kotri had become a concern due to its deteriorating condition, and he suggested that an allocation of Rs10 billion to Rs12 billion could resolve the problem. He urged the incoming administration to consider releasing the funds to prevent future disasters.

In addition, the minister announced that the government would compensate the heirs of each deceased person with Rs1.5 million, but emphasized that compensation alone was not a solution.

In addition, Rafique emphasized the significance of investing in the railway industry for its efficient operation.

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