LAHORE: Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Monday shared details of the recent train accident that claimed 19 lives and said that a report of the joint interrogation team (JIT) would be released within the next three days.
The locomotive and three carriages carrying soldiers from Pano Aqil to Kharian had plunged into a canal on July 2 near Gujranwala, apparently due to collapse of a bridge. In an initial response, Rafique had said that no evidence of terrorism was found but the possibility of sabotage could not be ruled out in the tragedy.
Addressing a press conference, the PML-N leader said that the locomotive was overspeeding and the driver had pulled emergency break some 945 feet before the Chanawan Bridge as a result of which the engine and bogies derailed.
He further said that the train had mysteriously exceeded the speed limit before the accident occurred.
Khawaja Saad said that the locomotive had not even come to a halt at the “stop dead” point where the train diver was supposed to take a break and sign a paper before leaving the signal.
“Let the JIT decide if terrorism was behind the derailment of the train,” the federal railways minister said while responding to a question.
The minister said that investigators are looking into the reason behind the train driver’s sudden change in speed.
He also said that the driver was one of the senior most drivers and was scheduled to retire after a few months.
Khawaja Saad Rafique confirmed that a Naib Subedar of the Pakistan Army was also present along with the driver in the driving cabin of the engine.
Talking about bridges, he said that there are 13,959 bridges in the network of Pakistan Railways, out of which 159 bridges need some repair works. However, he made it clear that the condition of the Chanawan Bridge was pretty good.
Another train had crossed the same bridge, just 15 minutes prior to the accident, the federal railways minister added.
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