LAHORE: Poor maintenance of a rail joint is the prime cause of two passenger trains crash near Dehrki in June last which left 67 people dead, says an inquiry conducted by the Federal Government Inspector of Railways (FGIR).
Submitted to the Ministry of Railways, the inquiry held more than 20 officials, including the divisional superintendent of the Railways Sukkar division, responsible for negligence regarding ‘improper maintenance of the track’.
“Yes I have heard about this report that has held me responsible as well for poor supervision,” Sukkar DS Tariq Latif told Dawn on Sunday.
“I already knew that the FGIR would scapegoat me despite the fact I had informed the headquarters well in time about the issues that might lead to occurrence of any major accident within the operational jurisdiction of the Sukkar division,” Mr Latif, who belongs to 30th common training programme (CTP) of the Civil Superior Service (CSS) railways group.
The PR Board Chairman/ Federal Secretary Dr Habibur Rehman Gilani declined to confirm the FGIR findings.
“I received the report on Saturday night but couldn’t go through it due to holiday (on Sunday). I cannot confirm it without approving and submitting it to the minister for railways for a final approval,” Mr Gilani told Dawn.
An initial report by some junior officials soon after the crash had also identified poor and improper welding of the rail joint that gave in to massive train load as the main reason behind the derailment of some coaches of the Sargodha-bound Millat Express.
The train derailed between Raiti and Daharki stations in Ghotki district at around 3.30am, June 7 last, spilling eight carriages onto the parallel track. A few minutes later, the Sir Syed Express from Rawalpindi, which was coming from the opposite direction, ran into the derailed carriages.
According to the initial report — called joint certificate under the railway laws — all but one member of the team agreed to the aforementioned reason while explaining the situation after inspection of the site.
It said the team which visited the site “found a welded rail joint broken freshly, sign of cavity measuring 3 inch at least, its refilling and then appearance of cavity and sign of broken joint with bolts (foot and head of the rail) and sign of hammering on the rail head, which couldn’t sustain the approaching train load.”
It also found dragging of the derailed coaches on the up track up to 76 feet, recommending for fixing responsibility after forensic analyses of the broken rail piece.
The DS Sukkar, while talking to media soon after the incident, had revealed that there were around 6,000 joints on both up and down tracks in the Sukkur division and the point where the tragedy had occurred was one of the welded joints. He had further revealed that he had just one welding machine and that too was of poor quality, recommending that the entire track needed rehabilitation on an urgent basis.