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Thursday, July 1, 2021

gory train accident in Pakistan at Daharki in Sindh Province !

Daharki  is a city in Ghotki District in the Sindh province of Pakistan – in news for wrong reasons ! (Train accidents are not uncommon !)  Daharki is home to several cotton factories, fertilizer plants, and oil and gas exploratory facilities, among other industries.

We have a long and chequered history of Railways in India be it the first commercial train in 1853 from Bori Bundher to Thane  or the one from Royapuram to Wallajah in 1856.   Paki railways have a different history, perhaps, though it was part of India at that time of British rule.

Having resoundingly lost the First Afghan War (1839-42), the army of the East India Company was paranoid with fear of Russia marching into Afghanistan. The situation only worsened in the latter half of the 19th century as tensions between Czarist Russia and Victorian Britain rose to a fever pitch, both vying for imperial superiority in Central Asia. Since railway was the fastest way to transport troops, Russia was swiftly embroidering Asian deserts with steel threads east of the Don River even as British engineers hastened to match stitch for stitch through the Subcontinent and across the shale and limestone barriers of the Suleman Mountains and the Bolan Pass. It was not until seven years after the end of the second Afghan War (1878-80) that the first line through Chappar Rift reached Quetta. But landslides and floods plagued the route even when it was being built, necessitating an alternate line. This seemed feasible only through the more stable geology of the Bolan Pass.

In 1855, during the British Raj, several railway companies began laying track and operating in Sindh and Punjab. The country's railway system was originally a patchwork of local rail lines operated by small, private companies, including the Scinde Railway, Punjab Railway, Delhi Railway and Indus Flotilla. In 1870, the four companies combined to form the Scinde, Punjab & Delhi Railway. Several other rail lines were soon built.  Following independence in 1947, most of the North Western State Railway infrastructure was in Pakistani territory and was renamed the Pakistan Western Railway. In East Bengal, the portion of the Assam Bengal Railway in Pakistani territory was renamed the Pakistan Eastern Railway.  

From 1950 to 1955, the Mashriq-Maghreb Express operated from Koh-e-Taftan in West Pakistan to Chittagong in East Pakistan, using Indian tracks and rolling stock for a 1,986-kilometre (1,234 mi) route between Attari and Benapole.    

Pakistan Railways is the national, state-owned railway company of Pakistan. Founded in 1861 and headquartered in Lahore, offering both freight and passenger services.  Millions use Railways daily .. ..

On 7 June 2021, two trains collided near Daharki, in the Ghotki District of the southern province of Sindh in Pakistan, killing at least 63 people and injuring about 150 others. An express train derailed onto the opposite track, and a second express train crashed into the first roughly a minute later. About six to eight bogies were left "completely destroyed".

On that fateful day, before dawn, the Millat Express, originating from Karachi, left Daharki station, in the Ghotki District of the southern province of Sindh in Pakistan, at 03:28 PKT, heading for Sargodha in the province of Punjab. Ten minutes later, at 03:38, the train derailed between the Daharki and Reti train stations, spilling eight bogies onto the opposite track whilst most of the train's passengers were sleeping. About a minute later and travelling in the opposite direction, the Sir Syed Express, which had left Rawalpindi bound for Karachi, crashed into the derailed train.

It is reported that the driver of the Sir Syed Express stated that the train was travelling at a normal speed when he saw the derailed Millat Express on the tracks. He engaged the emergency brakes, but was unable to stop the train in time. According to the administration of Pakistan Railways, 703 passengers had been aboard the Millat Express, and 505 aboard the Sir Syed Express.

Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that he was "shocked by the horrific train accident" and ordered an investigation. Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati stated that a "high-level inquiry" has been ordered to determine how the collision occurred, adding that it was unclear if the accident was a result of sabotage or the track's poor quality.

Millat Express  is a passenger train operated daily by Pakistan Railways between Karachi and Lalamusa in Malakwal.  The trip takes approximately 21 hours, 30 minutes to cover a published distance of 1,326 kilometres (824 mi), traveling along a stretch of the Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line.  The other train was a fast and non-stop train – Sir Syed Express – from Rawalpindi to Karachi, running 21 hours to reach its destination.   

Azam Khan Swati   is the elected senior vice president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and is the Railway Minister now.  Swati, during his stay in the United States, owned a chain of stores, was a member of Pakistani American Congress.   He is ostensibly one of the richest parliamentarians in the history of Pakistan in terms of wealth formally declared and taxed of $20.5m, with fellow PTI member Jehangir Khan Tareen also having a high official declared wealth.  

Sad human lives were lost whilst a couple of Pakistan press blamed the poor infrastructure and old tracks as also corruption being the malice.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
8th June 2021. 

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