The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Services derailed after train jumps signal

The series of recent mishaps involving the railways continued on Saturday.

An EMU driver overshot a red signal, holding up train services for about seven-and-a-half hours in the Howrah-Burdwan section of Eastern Railway (ER). Another accident was averted after locals discovered a substantial gap on the tracks near Canning, stopping services for about half an hour.

The dayís count of mishaps comes barely 48 hours after the Teesta-Torsa Express escaped a major accident.

ER authorities suspended the motorman of the EMU and a loco inspector after the former disregarded a red light. The EMU, travelling towards Burdwan, came to a halt at platform 3 of Seoraphuli station at about 5.40 am. Passengers of the train panicked when instead of pulling into platform 4, the train turned to platform 3 from where the Howrah-bound Tarakeswar local had departed minutes ago.

There was a scurry to get off as passengers feared a collision with some other train. They staged a demonstration in front of the station masterís cabin.

The incident damaged the track-switching system at the point and held up train movement till 1.20 pm. Hordes of commuters were stranded at stations along the route.

Eastern Railway had to cancel 17 EMU local trains, and 10 other local trains had to be detained for over an hour each at different stations. The Up Black Diamond Express and the Up Ganadevata Express were diverted along the Howrah-Burdwan chord line.

In the Canning incident, villagers discovered a large gap between the tracks near Kalikapur and informed the station master. Inspectors were sent to the spot and repairs were carried out, said divisional railway manager, Sealdah section, D.C. Mitra.

In Malda, even as the Railway Safety Commissioner arrived in Azimgunj to probe the Teesta-Torsa derailment, the driver of the train along with the public works inspector at Dhuliyan, an assistant engineer of New Farakka and the chief power controller were suspended.

Sources said Prabir Das, the driver of Teesta-Torsa Express, six of whose bogies were derailed, had violated the speed restriction while entering the loop section. The public works inspector was suspended for badly-maintained tracks as were the other two for negligence of duty. The sources said the driver was speeding at over 20 km per hour while 15 km per hour is the limit for entering the loop line.

The sources hinted that Das might also have invited action against himself by complaining of ill-maintained tracks to reporters at the derailment site. Das had said on Thursday night that he was apprehending an accident due to the poor maintenance of the tracks.

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