Gujranwala tragedy: Inquiry blames negligent driver for train crash

Leaked report gives clean chit to railways officials

Zahid Gishkori July 17, 2015
Leaked report gives clean chit to railways officials. PHOTO: AFP


An inquiry panel has squarely blamed the engine driver and support staff for this month’s train crash in Gujranwala, singling them out for dangerous driving and utter negligence in the accident.

The panel — formed to investigate the causes of the crash — ruled out the possibility of sabotage or terrorism. It also gave a clean chit to all senior rail officials, including Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique. The joint inquiry committee report leaked to the media on Friday states the accident took place due to “over-speeding and culpable negligence” by the drivers and the supporting staff.

The seven-member committee headed by Pakistan Railways Federal Inspector Mian Muhammad Arshad recorded the findings after examining the destroyed locomotive and looking at the possibility of sabotage, human factors and the railway track and the collapsed bridge.

The inquiry commission found the train was travelling at more than double the permissible speed limit of 30km/hour for the specific locomotive category. This increased the “lateral and vertical oscillations” derailing the wheels of the rear truck on the curved track. The tragedy was aggravated because emergency brakes were applied late, the report stated.

Pakistan Railways spokesperson Aftab Akbar said the inquiry report fixed two kinds of responsibilities: direct and indirect. The report will be submitted to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Eight people have been held responsible at the initial stage in the 450-page report, he told The Express Tribune.

Akbar said the joint inquiry committee had recommended appropriate actions against all those found responsible. The report was prepared on the basis of evidence, statements of witnesses, scrutiny of relevant records and observations of the crash site.

The investigators have fixed direct responsibility of the accident on driver Riaz Ahmad, assistant driver Muhammad Fayyad and points man Shahid Mahmood. Faisalabad station superintendents Muhammad Ahsan-ul-Haq and Muhammad Ali, foreman Muhammad Hanif, Lahore Control Office chief controller Zahid Saeed, deputy chief controllers Zafar Siddique Akhtar and Allah Rakha, and section controller Muhammad Awais Akhtar have been held responsible indirectly. Driver Riaz had died on the spot.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had formed the investigation panel comprising high-ranking army and railways officials on July 3 to probe the accident, which left 17 people dead and another 85 injured.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015. 


irfan | 8 years ago | Reply Naming scapegoats as always. However the inquiry fails to explain the presence of an army officer in the engine. Apparently, the army-man was forcing the drivers to over speed against the SOP. While we hold the army's morale dear, it should not be upheld at the cost of the morale of other state institutions.
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