Pakistan Railways will seek alternatives for rehabilitation of vulnerable tracks if upgradation of Main Line (ML-1) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is delayed any further.
This was revealed by Secretary Railways, Sikandar Sultan Raja, while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Railways which convened with Mohammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo in the chair.
The parliamentary panel observed that Pakistan Railways’ services are deteriorating while the government is busy in the race for operating new trains without focusing on quality and standards.
Secretary Railways informed the Committee that the department has decided not to launch new trains. Further, the already launched new trains would be examined and analyzed to find out whether they are viable or not, he added.
Expressing serious concerns over the increasing number of train accidents, the committee stressed the need for authentic medical and psychological testing of drivers and assistant drivers to ensure that driving staff are physically and mentally fit.
It was decided that medical tests of 50 drivers would be carried from Railways Hospital in Lahore and cross-checked from Combined Military Hospital (CMH) to ensure the quality of medical tests.
The Committee showed grave concern regarding increasing railway incidents that have resulted in numerous casualties and recommended that train drivers must be provided with an environment where it is mandatory for them to take ample rest.
It was asserted that a workable program must be devised to ensure this. CCTV cameras need to be installed to monitor driver movement. It was also suggested that a committee should be formed to evaluate personal issues faced by railway staff, especially the drivers, to ensure that they are not mentally stressed while performing their duties.
The committee was informed that the medical examination of staff is conducted on a regular basis. A minimum qualification of FSc is mandatory for recruitment after which a two-year simulator training course is completed. It was also revealed that every engine is installed with a tracker to monitor speed.
An internal investigation was underway into the recent accident of a passenger train, Akbar Express, traveling from Lahore to Quetta, which rammed into a freight train near Sadiqabad, killing 26 while 74 were injured. The inquiry is due to be completed within 10 days, the committee was told.
Chairman Committee directed the ministry that medical reports of the driver and the station master must be submitted to the committee, including tests taken after the accident to determine drug usage.
The committee was informed that the signal system was installed in 1968. The collision took place due to over speeding and non-observance of red signals by the driver of Akbar Express. The initial findings revealed that the driver and assistant driver were not vigilant.