Rail workers suspended after deadly Pakistan train crash

More than 1,000 passengers were aboard the Hazara Express when it came off the tracks.

Six railway workers including track maintenance staff have been suspended after a train crash in southern Pakistan at the weekend killed 34 people, a government minister said on Wednesday.

More than 1,000 passengers were aboard the Hazara Express when it came off the tracks on Sunday in a flat, rural part of Sindh province near Nawabshah, around 250 kilometres (160 miles) by rail from the southern port city of Karachi.

“We have not forgiven negligence. We have suspended six people,” railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique told a news conference in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday.

“The final inquiry is yet to come but there was no sabotage.”

Rafique told parliament on Tuesday that two factors had contributed to the incident.

The first was that two jammed wheels behind the engine had been greased before the train set off, instead of the carriage being replaced.

The other factor was a flaw in the top plate of the rail track which exacerbated the problem.

The minister dismissed an initial report submitted by a six-member investigation team which stated that steel fish plates – which join sections of track together – had been replaced by wooden ones.

Residents who came out to help at the crash site told AFP that the track had been affected by floods last year, but Rafique at the weekend said no faults linked to the monsoon rains had been reported.

Crashes and derailments occur frequently on Pakistan’s antiquated railway system, which has nearly 7,500 kilometres (4,600 miles) of track and carries more than 80 million passengers a year.

The colonial-era network still has tracks, junctions and bridges dating back more than 150 years, although modernisation is underway as part of the massive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

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Pakistan train crash