- 18 dead, 80 injured
It may not be the worst disaster in the history of Pakistan Railways, but the one at Sadiqabad did result in 22 people being killed and more than 80 injured. As far as can be reconstructed, the accident, involving the crashing of a passenger train into a parked goods train, occurred because of improper signals. This shows up as a disaster just waiting to happen. Signalling systems installed during the Raj are breaking down now, and thus, as has been shown in such grisly fashion, imperilling the lives of passengers.
Railways are supposed to be safe, with generous margins of error. Previous disasters have been because that margin has been cut down. However, this is an example of sheer laziness, an unwillingness to maintain the systems necessary for the safe operation of the system. The role of the political head of the Railways is also dubious. The Minister should concentrate on the steps needed to ensure that the railways maintain the reputation they have worldwide: for punctuality and safety. Travelling by the railways should not be a gamble. Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad should ensure that the right people, capable and willing are in the right slots, and able to make good any deficiencies in the system. Instead, he seems to concentrate on starting new services, and on getting the Prime Minister to inaugurate them. It has only been eight days since the Prime Minister inaugurated the Sir Syed Express.
It seems that such tactics have saved Sheikh Rasheed from the fate that Mr Khan recommended for the Railways Minister every time there was an accident under the PML-N tenure: that he resign. True, this would not bring back anyone, but it would send a strong signal.