ISLAMABAD/ HYDERABAD: A speeding passenger train on Thursday banged into a parked cargo train in Hyderabad, killing at least three people while disrupting movement of trains for several hours.
The incident happened in Pathan Goth area near Hyderabad railway station at around 5 pm when Jinnah Express, travelling from Karachi to Lahore, rammed into bogies of a cargo train.
This is the second train accident in as many days in Hyderabad. On Tuesday, Rehman Baba Express struck a car passing through an unmanned gate in Hyderabad rural.
Hyderabad Commissioner Abbas Baloch confirmed three deaths. The deputy superintendent railway Mazhar Ali Shah told the media that all the deceased, identified as Aslam Chandio, Syed Noman and Yasir Bashir, were employees of the Pakistan Railways (PR).
According to him, Chandio was an engine's driver and the two others were his assistants. "The PR has ordered an inquiry to ascertain cause of the incident." The PR sources said a wrong signal was conveyed to Jinnah Express about clearance of the up-track where freight train's bogies were still parked.
The commissioner said the railways could tell who was responsible for the accident and how it happened. Removal of the damaged engine and bogies is also responsibility of the PR, he said.
"Some passengers also sustained minor injuries because of the collision," Khurram, a passenger, told The Express Tribune. According to him, he also saw some passengers leaving the train after the accident.
It took the PR hours to send a crane to remove the badly damaged engine and bogies from the track. The DS Railways acknowledged that the incident had slowed movement of the trains through Hyderabad as only the down track is being used to move the trains on both the sides.
"Business Express, Millat Express, Allama Iqbal Express and some other trains have been stopped. We are trying to clear the track," Shah said.
It took Jinnah Express more than three hours to leave for its destination after the accident as the train, which was taken to Kotri railway station, awaited arrival of engine from Karachi.
Some leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP), which rules Sindh province, demanded resignation of the Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid. Sindh Transport Minister Awais Qadir Shah said the people hear every day that the trains either get derailed or collide. "The accidents are increasing because of the old trains. Rashid has failed to bring about an improvement in the railways."
Jinnah Express has met second accident in two days. A bogie of the train caught fire in Sahiwal on Wednesday. Several trains between Lahore and Khanewal sections reportedly faced more than five hours delay.
Meanwhile, the PR has prepared an initial report on the collision. The PR's Chief Executive Officer Aftab Akbar said it appears that the incident was caused due to negligence of the Jinnah Express train driver.
Since the eye witnesses of the incident lost their lives in the collision, the investigation will be completed in light of the technical evidence. The train was running at a higher-than-permissible limit when it met the accident.
Talking to The Express Tribune, he said Jinnah Express hit the cargo train from its back at a time when the latter was standing at the outer signal of Hyderabad railway station. The collision caused damage to the engine of Jinnah Express and the break and load bearing compartments of the cargo train.
He said as per the initial report, no technical fault was found in Jinnah Express. The train was supposed to stop at Hyderabad Station and exercise low speed while it was entering the platform. However, the train's speed was above the permissible limit of 15 to 20 kilometer per hour.
It appears that the driver and the assistant driver of Jinnah Express were not alert when the accident took place. However, the inquiry will also take into account the signal system and the possibility of over speeding. The CEO has directed the chief mechanical officer, civil engineer and deputy chief to expedite completion of a detailed report in this regard.