Pakistan’s railway is infamous for its dilapidated and substandard services, so much so that the general public has been systematically desensitised to the number of fatalities that are a result of train accidents. 19 dead in Farooqabad and, a month earlier, the same number in Rohri, 70 burnt and killed in Rahim Yar Khan, 4 more in Pattoki, and on it goes. With 2019 being declared the most lethal year for train travel in Pakistan, government negligence with regards to safety matters needs to be addressed now more than ever.

The railway system of the country is the product of English colonial rule and, astonishingly, has not been altered in the slightest since 1947. Dutifully, neglectful ministers come and go, turning a blind eye towards the entire structure which deteriorates steadily. Safety measures seem like an unheard concept as crossings are left unmanned, open and without warning—one is to assume and rely on their own observations about when their path would be met with the unstoppable force of the vehicle. The state of the people is such that the news of train accidents is met with unnerving apathy since the concept of inefficiency has been readily accepted. In accordance with this reaction, our local media has also taken a step back from reporting what is seen to be ‘routine news’.

The harrowing nature of our railway system and ramshackled trains is one that needs to be reformed almost immediately; investment opportunities, along with revenue generation, should be maximised so that replacement of trains and re-instalment of much more reliable tracks is possible. Institutionalised complacency should be counteracted with the introduction of comprehensive safety guidelines in regards to operations and public warnings. It is not feasible to wait for another grand tragedy to shock the authorities into countering this culture of inaction.