Fake news debunked as railway bogies imported from China are in use

Spreading fake news and false claims is so easy nowadays on both mainstream and social media in the absence of any fact-check process. One of the latest such claim was about non-functional railway bogies imported from China, which has been debunked through fact checking.

According to details, a verified Twitter account, in a tweet posted on Jan 3, said the 46 bogies imported from China, at the cost of $149 million, were not suitable for Pakistani [railway] tracks – a claim that was repeated by several other persons using the microblogging site.

“88 Pakistani officers inspected/approved these bogies in China,” the user wrote, “Such a big loss, clearly they should be fired.”

Unfortunately, the tweet has so far been viewed over 280,000 times on Twitter and liked 3,610 times by Jan 10.

In the same thread, the Twitter account posted a story published by The Express Tribune as the source.

Another worrying aspect is that this Twitter regularly paddles lies and spreads misinformation but has over 95,000 followers.

On January 4, another Twitter user wrote that the minister for railway “bought $150 million worth of bogies which cannot run on Pakistani train tracks.”

What is the fact?

Three Pakistan Railways officials confirmed that the bogies were operational and ran for 2,500 kilometres in the country.

However, some modifications were made to ensure further security for passengers, the officials added. These modifications were funded by China.

Shahid Aziz, the additional general manager mechanic at the state-owned Pakistan Railways, said the bogies were up and running.

“These [bogies] travelled 2,500 kilometres from Karachi to Peshawar to Lahore to Faisalabad and then to Khanewal,” Aziz said, “There is no issue at all of not being operational.”

The official added that one concern raised by Pakistani authorities with China was that the guard, who sits in the last bogie of the train, should also have the privilege to stop the train in case of any untoward incident, such as a robbery or a fire.

“The Chinese realised that this issue can be fixed by expanding the diameter of the pipes,” the officials said, “They [China] fixed [the pipes] with their own funds.”

Another official says the claims circulating online were incorrect and that only pipes were modified to give additional privileges to the guard.

“The bogies travelled [on the tracks] from Karachi to Lahore, they did not fly to Lahore,” he said, “That should be enough to tell you how wrong these claims are.”

It was explained that the project with China was of 230 railway bogies, of which 46 were to be imported from China with the remaining 184 to be made locally at the carriage factory in Islamabad after transfer of technology.

On January 7, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique also confirmed at a press conference that the news was false and that bogies were tested before being sent to Pakistan and then tested again in Pakistan by running them for 2,500 kilometers on Pakistani train tracks.

He also showed the pipes that were expanded. “These [pipe modifications] were funded by China,” he added.

Who is the culprit?

There are at least characters who can be blamed for this episode.

  • The person who launched this propaganda on social media
  • The newspaper which published the story based on some source’s account without verification
  • Elon Musk – the new owner of Twitter – who has made it easier for those spreading fake news by verifying their accounts by charging a fee while disbanding the original process designed for the purpose.  

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