Nearly 1,000 people were on three trains that collided in southern Pakistan Wednesday morning, killing at least 107 people and injuring 800 more. Police now say the death toll is at least 150. One train, the Karachi Express, rammed into the back of another, the stationary Quetta Express, after missing a signal causing several cars to derail. The derailed carriages were then hit almost simultaneously by a third train, the oncoming Tezgam Express, which was taking passengers from Karachi north to Rawalpindi, near the capital of Islamabad. It is well known that Pakistan’s railways are antiquated, and dozens of people have been killed in train accidents in recent years.
Poor infrastructure, coupled with poverty, increases the likelihood that this will happen again. This supports the idea that long-term sustainable economic growth, not permanent international aid or charity, will improve the quality of life as demands for better infrastructure will occur. Having been on the outdated trains in India I can tell you that I’m surprised that this does not happen more often. People are packed in the rail cars like sardines. It’s amazing to see how people can even breathe. Old trains, old technical systems, coupled with increased passenger demands, opens up dangerous possibilities. Countries with the most advanced rail systems have fewer casualties when accidents do happen.