Indian Railways working on system to check collisions


Chennai : Indian Railways are working on a system to prevent train accidents like the one near Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu Tuesday night, which killed 10 and injured 86, said Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi Wednesday.

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Speaking to reporters at Arakonam in Vellore district, Trivedi said: “A system is being worked out to ensure these incidents do not happen.” He did not elaborate.

Accompanied by Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa and senior Railway Board officials, Trivedi visited the accident spot in a special train after meeting the injured in a Chennai hospital.

Trivedi said that the priority was to take care of the injured and restore the traffic. It was very early to arrive at a conclusion on the cause of accident as a report from experts was awaited.

He said signals and other railway systems were functioning well and we had to find out why this accident happened.

The Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment mainline electrical multiple unit (EMU) train rammed into the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train, waiting for a signal near the Chitheri station, around 9.30 p.m. Tuesday. Five coaches of the stationary train and three of the EMU were derailed near Arakkonam, about 85 km from Chennai.

The driver of EMU train neglected the signal and oversped, resulting in the accident, Trivedi told reporters in Chennai.

EMU driver Rajkumar had operated the train after a 16-hour layover, Trivedi said.

Rajkumar jumped out of the driver’s cabin just before the accident, another official said.

The driver is now undergoing treatment in Chennai for injuries sustained after he jumped out of the running train.

The railways have announced that S.K. Mittal, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, Bangalore, will hold a statutory inquiry in Chennai Sep 16-17 into the accident.

The railways have invited information from people who might know about the accident and desire to give evidence. They can contact the Southern Railway office, Chennai division, or fax the information to 080-22260650.

Following the accident, the Southern Railway Wednesday cancelled 11 trains and rescheduled seven from here following the accident. Special counters were set up to refund the fare to ticket holders of the cancelled trains.

Rescue work at the accident spot progressed at a good pace Wednesday as the sun shone bright. On Tuesday, the absence of light coupled with heavy rains hindered the relief work.

By Wednesday afternoon, the rescue teams cleared the mangled steel from the tracks and trains were allowed to pass through the spot to Chennai.

Janakiraman, a survivor who was brought to a hospital in Chennai, recalled the collision and said he heard a huge noise. After sometime, he jumped out of a window of the coach he was travelling in.

A similar tale was narrated by Sundar, another survivor. “I somehow came out of a window and helped two others to come out,” he said.

An official of the Government General Hospital here told IANS: “Thirty-six injured people (26 men and 10 women) were admitted Tuesday night. Many suffered fractures.”