Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati on Wednesday said he is willing to resign from his position if it would cover the losses and casualties in the incident. “If my resignation is the appropriate substitute for the accident, then I am ready to resign,” he said. “if my resignation can heal the wounds of those who lost their relatives and the injured, I say ‘Bismillah’ to it,” the minister told a press conference in Lahore. Swati said the investigation into the accident is underway, saying that those who were found negligible in their duties would be handed strict punishments. He, however, said it is unlikely that a fault in an eight-mile (12.87 kilometres) stretch of railway tracks was responsible for the recent train accident in Ghotki. He said that the tracks where the incident had occurred had recently undergone maintenance on a stretch of eight miles. “I myself and other senior personnel have inspected and monitored the accident site so there is less possibility that there was any fault in the eight miles of (railway) tracks but I can’t determine this until the final report arrives,” he added. When questioned on the inquiry’s neutrality, Swati said he has decided to also appoint an ‘experienced army officer with expertise in conducting investigations’ and another individual known for investigations in the aviation ministry. Their main purpose would be to aid him and independently oversee the investigation, he explained. The railways minister lamented the lack of upgradation for railways assets and equipment, stressing that improving railway tracks was necessary to boost the economy and reduce input costs of exporters and importers. “You have to upgrade your entire railway track at any cost, there is no other way except for this.” Swati lamented that the railways did not have the technology to improve the tracks’ conditions, adding that a massive amount was needed for the railways upgradation. “I need Rs620bn for the total upgradation of the Pakistan Railways,” he said. “Will discuss the issue of railways upgradation with the prime minister,” he said, adding that if an upgradation was not carried out, more lives could be lost in future. He said that 520 km track from Kotri to Khanpur was dangerous. He said the track had not been upgraded since 1971 which should have been upgraded 20 to 25 years ago, whereas, the sleepers were last changed in 2003, in which 4 to 5 per cent of sleepers were unable to bear the track and train load. “I have inspected every inch of the railway track from Multan to Sukkur during the last 5 months and observed railway track in Sukkur division was dangerous and he had pointed it out many times”, he said. Azam Swati said that he met the Chinese Ambassador 3 to 4 times in 5 months and requested to start ML-1 project. “We have accepted the terms and conditions of the ML-1 and even asked China to start phase-1 of the project, however the improvement of track would cost billions of rupees. The federal minister said that one kilometer of Orange Line train was constructed at a cost of 60 million dollars and total cost was 1.6 billion dollars. Similarly, one kilometer of Multan Motorway was completed at a cost of Rs 12 to 15 million at a total cost of Rs 4 billion while Rs 55 billion was spent on land acquisition. He said that such a huge amount of money had been spent for benefiting only a certain part of the city while the railways was ignored.