Showpiece lifeline: Rajdhani Express
Patna, June 27: The toll in the derailment of the Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express remained low not by chance but because of modern coach technology.
The Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches of the showpiece train played the real saviour. Considered “anti-telescopic”, they did not turn turtle after jumping off the rails in the small hours on Wednesday between Chhapra Kacheri and Goldenganj stations. Nor did they climb on each other because of their anti-climbing feature and advanced couplings, saving several lives.
Four persons were killed in the accident in the Sonepur division of the East Central Railway. Twenty-one persons suffered injuries.
A member of the engineering department of the railways attributed the low casualty figures in the accident to the LHB coaches of the Rajdhani Express, comparatively safer during accident. These coaches, lighter than conventional ones, are made of stainless steel and the interiors are done up with aluminium, the railway official posted at the Hajipur railway zonal headquarters told The Telegraph.
The officer said: “Had the train not been equipped with LHB coaches, the severity of the accident would have been much higher. These coaches have automatic couplers to join two coaches unlike the conventional ones, where one needs to go inside the coach and move through the vestibule to uncouple two compartments. These advanced couplers can be easily uncoupled from the outside.”
He said the coaches of the ill-fated Rajdhani Express stuck to the ground soon after the derailment instead of capsizing or rolling over. As a result, majority of the passengers escaped unhurt, he added.
The rakes of Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto Express and some other superfast trains comprise LHB coaches, equipped with advance couplers and anti-climbing features. The LHB coaches used in Indian trains were first developed by Linke Hofmann Busch — a German manufacturing company now a part of Alstom. The name Linke Hofmann Busch became defunct in 2009 when it became ALSTOM Transport Germany GmbH.
India initially imported 24 air-conditioned LHB coaches from Germany. The Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala started manufacturing them after technology transfer.
The special investigation team (SIT) constituted to probe the derailment of the 11 LHB coaches and the engine of Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express has sent a questionnaire to the railway authorities to ascertain the cause of the accident.
A senior Government Railway Police officer on Friday said the station manager of Chhapra station has been given a questionnaire, seeking information about the number of employees on duty at Chhapra railway station on June 24 (day of the derailment), the trains that passed through the Down track after 10pm and the list of the personnel of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) assigned to escort the train. The list of the passengers has also been sought, the officer said.
“We have also sought the list of the passengers with their names and contact numbers so that their statement could be recorded. The railway authorities have been requested to provide the required information as early as possible,” Saran additional superintendent of police Sushil Kumar said.
Sushil, heading the six-member SIT, said the post-mortem report of the four passengers killed in the derailment of the showpiece train has been provided to the team. “The report is being analysed by the senior police officials and the members of the probe team,” he told The Telegraph over phone from Chhapra on Friday.
The autopsy report hinted at the death of the passengers because of cardiac arrest and fatal injuries caused by hard blunt substance. “It appears that the deceased were trapped in coaches and suffered grievous head injuries after they fell from their berths. As the victims were fast asleep at the time of the derailment, they had little time to protect themselves,” an investigating officer said.
The health minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, called on chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi yesterday evening and requested him to ensure better treatment to the injured hailing from the northeastern state. He also visited the Patna Medical College and Hospital, where the injured were undergoing treatment.