The accident occurred near the city of Multan after 2:00am when a Karachi-bound “Awam Express” passenger train rammed into a goods train which had stopped after running over a man crossing the railway track.
TV footage showed rescue officials working around crumpled and overturned bogies in the darkness. Officials said several trapped passengers had to be extracted from their carriages.
At least five people have been killed and scores others wounded, local district administration official confirmed.
A three-day public holiday for the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Azha ended on Wednesday following which many people are returning from their family homes to the cities where they work.
Railway officials blamed the accident on the passenger train driver, saying he failed to heed a red signal that went up after the goods train had stopped.
Train accidents have always been common in Pakistan, which inherited thousands of miles (kilometres) of track and trains from former colonial power, Britain.
The railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.
Last November, 19 people were killed in Pakistan’s south-western Balochistan province after a train’s brakes failed and it sped down the side of a mountain.
In July 2015, at least 17 people were killed when a special military train fell into a canal after a bridge partially collapsed.
Investigation committee formed
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has formed a committee to investigate what he termed as a tragic incident on Eid holidays.
The committee, led by a Federal Government Inspector Railways Muhammad Arshad, would find out the reasons that caused the incident, he said on Thursday while expressing solidarity with the victims’ families.
Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique has asked authorities concerned to submit an inquiry report within three days.
Meanwhile, the government has created information cells at city, cantt and Hyderabad stations where inquires could be made.