Another train accident

SIX members of a family, including a woman and a child, died when a Lahore-bound train hit their car at an unmanned crossing, 14 km from Gojra town, on Sunday. Scores of villagers blocked the tracks for about four hours in protest over failure of railways authorities to install a manned gate at the crossing.
This is not the only accident of the kind as a few days back a train crushed two motorised rickshaws on an ungated crossing, killing seven schoolchildren in Punjab’s Lodhran district. Similar accidents also took place in the past, highlighting the need to implement much-talked-about plan for manning of such crossings and gates but nothing of the sort has happened so far. There are demands from some circles that Minister for Railways should accept the responsibility and resign but Khwaja Saad Rafiq says he is ready to leave his office if that solves the problem and laments about non-cooperation of provincial governments in this regard. We believe it would be unfair to demand resignation of a Minister who is one of the most vibrant and successful members of the Cabinet and who has to his credit major achievement of bringing railways back on track. However, contention of the Minister that provincial governments are not cooperating is not acceptable at least in the context of Punjab where PML-N has its own government. A few months back, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways was informed that 50pc of the accidents, during the last three years, were caused due to unmanned level crossing and unauthorised railways crossing. Pakistan Railways had conducted a survey for upgradation of existing unmanned level crossings in collaboration with provincial and local district governments. Why the plan has not been implemented so far despite fatal accidents happening frequently in different sections? As the issue involved safety of precious lives, the Prime Minister may intervene if provincial and local governments are not extending necessary cooperation to Pakistan Railways.

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