LAHORE: All train operations of the Pakistan Railways resumed on Sunday after being suspended overnight.
Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said train operations are continuing as per routine across the country.
The development came after the Train Drivers Welfare Association (TDWA) announced a countrywide strike which resulted in suspension of operations in many parts of the country.
Talking to reporters in Lahore on Sunday, Saad said the railway administration foiled a bid of strike by some train drivers by taking timely action. “Cases under anti-terrorism act will be registered against these drivers.”
The railway administration held talks with train drivers, who were observing a strike, but all their demands could not be accepted, he added.
“Pakistan Railways will not compromise on passengers’ lives,” he said, adding that drivers were trying to blackmail the administration and demanded restoration of their six colleagues who were found guilty and responsible for killing of several passengers in dangerous accidents, including Awam Express and Zakriya Express.
After departmental inquiry, Saad highlighted, Pakistan Railways had taken legal action against these drivers.
“Pakistan Railways has a firm resolve to not bring these drivers back on duty,” he maintained.
“Pakistan Railways would accept all legitimate demands of its employees but would not compromise on passengers’ safety,” he resolved.
He said that all the trains that had been stopped by drivers had resumed their journey to their destinations.
The minister went on to say that 13 drivers who tried to create problems for passengers by stopping trains in deserted areas have been arrested.
He sought apology from passengers for the inconvenience they had to endure. He urged other drivers to call off the strike and resume duty.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Pakistan Railways warned of strict action against drivers involved in halting train operations. He disclosed that six drivers had already been arrested from Rawalpindi and eight from Karachi.
The Railway Police had been directed to launch operation against drivers and register cases under the Terrorism Act, the spokesman said, adding that contractual drivers have been called in to keep train operations running across Pakistan.
Taking legal action against the train drivers in Rawalpindi, the Railway police booked five leaders of the drivers under terrorism charges and arrested five of the drivers’ representatives.
The arrested representatives are Raja Hafeez, president of the All Pakistan Train Drivers Welfare Association, Anjum Saghir, Khizar Hayat, Waqas, and Raza Hussain.
According to available information, the authorities freed Raja Hafeez after negotiations with the protesting drivers. As the negotiations were under way, four other drivers were still in police custody.
Earlier, the drivers association said that their strike would continue till the railways management accepted their demands, including upgrading their pay scale and meal allowances and restoring suspended drivers, some of whom were found guilty in inquiry reports of different train accidents.
A total of 278 drivers have submitted a leave request, which has been rejected by the railways management.
The association said that railways authorities were not taking their demands seriously and after a year of negotiations they had finally decided to call the strike.
A spokesperson for the Pakistan Railways said that bringing train operations to a halt falls under terrorism and they would not come under pressure.
“The management is also considering taking strict action against the association,” he said. “We request drivers to continue their normal duties and not create hurdles in the railway operations. The management has already agreed to fulfil their legal demand,” he added.