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SAHIWAL/TOBA TEK SINGH: Passengers had a hard time as rail traffic remained suspended for up to 10 hours following derailment of coaches of two freight trains at Chichawatni on the Lahore-Khanewal section and Shorkot on the Faisalabad-Khanewal section on Monday.

Frustrated passengers manhandled staff at the Sahiwal Railway Station.

Authorities said six coaches of a freight train carrying 60,000 tonne coal to the Qadirabad (Sahiwal) power plant derailed at Chichawatni railway crossing at 3am. As a result traffic on the Up and Down tracks on the Lahore-Khanewal section was suspended.

Railway authorities halted trains running on the main section. Lahore-bound Awan Express and Karachi-bound Tezgam Express were stopped at Mian Channu and Kasowal, respectively. Four other Lahore-bound trains, including Night Coach, Karachi Express and Green Train, were halted for 10 hours at Khanewal.

The Multan divisional traffic controller said routes of Allama Iqbal Express, Jaffar Express and Business Express were changed and they headed for Lahore via Khanewal-Faisalabad route.

Passengers of the Multan-bound Musa Pak Express which was stopped at Sahiwal Railway Station got upset due to the long wait and started manhandling assistant station master and other staff. Elite Force and railways police personnel were called who dispersed the passengers and controlled the situation. Traffic was restored after about 10 hours delay after the derailed coaches were put back on track.

In another incident, two bogies of a freight train derailed near the Shorkot Cantt Railway Station which resulted in blockade of tracks leading to Faisalabad, Multan, Jaranwala and Jhang for six hours.

Railway officials said the bogies of the train going to Khanewal from Jaranwala derailed at 9am due to some technical fault. Local railways officials waited for a relief train from Khanewal for two hours but when it did not come they started lifting derailed bogies with a crane and it took them six hours to restore the traffic at 3pm.

During this period, express trains, including 17Up Millat Express going to Malakwal from Karachi and 139Up Sandal Express going to Sargodha from Multan remained stuck at Shorkot while 28Dn Shalimar Express and 46Dn Pakistan Express going to Karachi from Lahore and Rawalpindi, respectively, were halted at the Chuttiana railway station.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2017