The blaze is thought to have spread to at least three carriages.
Local reports suggest many of the victims died as they tried to jump off the burning train.
Another 39 people have been injured, according to the BBC, amid fears the death toll may still rise.
He added: “Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had (cooking) oil which added fuel to fire.”
District deputy commissioner Jamil Ahmed said some of the victims could not be identified due to the burning, and they would need to use DNA to find out who had died.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy” on Twitter, adding that he had ordered an “immediate inquiry”.
The train was travelling from Karachi in the south of the country to Rawalpindi in the north.
The tragic situation represents Pakistan’s worst rail disaster in over a decade
Pakistan has a history of railway accidents with multiple deaths.
Casualty figures are often so high because trains are packed with far greater numbers than they were designed for.
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