Coaster driver responsible for deadly train accident: minister

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said that negligence of the coaster driver is the cause of the train accident near Farooqabad in which about 20 people expired on Friday.

Addressing a press conference at PR headquarters here on Saturday, he said that the coaster driver tried to cross the railway track from an unmanned level crossing avoiding a gate crossing which was closed due to the train arrival.

The minister said that after the project of Mainline-1 (ML-1) the track would be more protected, adding that the file work on the ML-1 project was speedily in progress and it would be started soon. He thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa for their special interest in the ML-1 project.

He said that the current year would be the year of railways complete revival, adding that no worker would be sacked. “We will provide employment to more than one lac people in the railways soon,” he expressed his determination. He said that the railways was operating trains with 60 per cent occupancy and bearing loss but it was providing facility to the masses across the country.

The minister alleged that the previous rulers looted the railways and took kickbacks in different purchases, adding that the railway was sending corruption cases of the previous regimes to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

To a question, he said that all concessions to the elderly people in the trains would remain intact and they could enjoy these concessions in all trains. The minister said that fare of the trains would not be increased, adding that he had rejected such suggestion already and burden of fuel prices would not be shifted to the passengers.

Meanwhile, on the instructions of Government of Pakistan, a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) C-130 aircraft carrying dead bodies of Sikh Yatrees landed at PAF Base Peshawar. The dead bodies of 21 Sikh Yatrees and a driver, who died in a dreadful collision between a coaster and train near Sheikhupura, were airlifted from PAF Base, Lahore last night, said a PAF press release. The relatives of the deceased had gathered at the PAF base Peshawar to receive the dead bodies. “11 males, 10 females and a four year child died in the accident, while 05 injured were under treatment at the hospital.”

Meanwhile, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force in his message said that he was grieved at the loss of precious lives in the tragic accident. He also expressed heartfelt condolences with the bereaved families who lost their dear ones and also prayed for the early recovery of the injured.

Separately, the foreign dignitaries and EU envoys and foreign missions of various countries in Pakistan has condoled the loss of precious lives in the tragic train incident that took place near Sheikhupura.

German Ambassador to Pakistan Bernhard Schlagheck also condoled over the loss of lives in the tragic train-coach accident. He expressed his heartfelt condolence to the grieved families of Sikh Yatris over the loss of precious lives. He prayed for the early recovery of the injured.

Sharing her thoughts, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara extremely shocked and saddened by the news of train-coach accident in which 20 Sikh pilgrims lost their lives, she said that my condolences and sympathies go to the victims and their families and I wish a quick recovery of the injured.She has also prayed for the departed souls.

The Embassy of China in Pakistan also condoled over the loss of lives in the tragic accident. “The Embassy is saddened at the tragic train accident in Punjab today that caused loss of lives. Our condolences and sympathies go to the victims and their families and we wish a quick recovery of the injured,” the embassy said in a statement on Twitter.

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