LAHORE: Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique Monday asked anchor-persons and politicians to avoid comment on Gujranwala train accident without proper information as it could affect the investigations.
Addressing a press conference here at the Pakistan Railways headquarters, he said that a joint investigation team (JIT), comprising three Army and four PR officers, was probing the incident, which was expected to present its report by Thursday.
The JIT should be allowed to complete its work with freedom as it was executing its job with responsibility, dedication and without any pressure, he added.
He denied the rumours that any preliminary report had been submitted. It was informed by an anchor, who was also a Senator and former law minister, that the PRP IG did not reach on the spot which was wrong as several news channels had shown his presence there, he added.
The Chananwan bridge where the accident took place was safe for traffic, and it was not over-aged, he said adding that it was not among the 159 bridges which, were declared repairable.
He said the track was also fit for normal traffic and Pakistan Express train had passed from there just one hour and 15 minutes before the accident. No engineering restriction was declared on the track, he added.
Saad Rafique said it had been proved that the locomotive of the unfortunate train got derailed at a 30 degree sharp curve situated at 945 feet from the incident spot as nuts, bolts and fish plates were found broken over there.
“It is being reviewed whether the nuts, bolts and fish plates were broken due to the derailment or the same were intentionally opened before the arrival of the train,” he added.
He said that the driver had pulled the emergency brakes, which was a right option at that time. However, the train might not have been crashed if the brakes were not to be pulled.
He said that overspeeding of the train was also established as the driver had not stopped at a “stop dead” point situated at 26 kilometre from the accident spot. It was being evaluated why the driver did not stop at that point, he added.
Saad told the media that the performance of the locomotive was also under consideration as it was inducted in the railways in 1957 and rehabilitated in 2003 for 15 years.
The minister said that there were 13,959 bridges in the system, out of which 159 had been declared repairable but not dangerous and their repair was gradually being undertaken.
Now, he added, the JIT report would find out the reasons of the accident.
He said that the overall performance of the railways was better and details in this regard would be shared with the media later.
PR Chairperson Parveen Agha, Chief Executive Officer Javaid Anwar Boobak, Advisor Railways Anjum Pervaiz, PRP IG Munir Ahmad Chishti and other senior officers were present at the press conference.