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Probe contradicts driver speed claim

- Safety commissioner on second visit

Patna, July 1: Investigations have revealed that the ill-fated Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express was running at a speed of 81.03km per hour at the time of derailment between Chhapra Kacheri and Goldenganj stations on June 25.

On the contrary, loco pilot Sukhdev Mahto had earlier claimed that the train was running at 65kmph at the time of accident.

The fact came to the fore during initial probe carried out by the special investigation team constituted to ascertain the cause of derailment of 12 coaches of the train, leaving four passengers, including three women, dead and 21 others seriously injured. Six of the injured persons had to be admitted to Patna hospitals.

The SIT apprised the commissioner of railway safety (CRS) P.K. Vajpayee of the matter during its meeting at Sonepur on Tuesday. Vajpayee reached Sonepur for the second time on Tuesday to record the statement of the railway employees, victims and the local residents to find out the cause of derailment.

Additional superintendent of police (Saran) Sushil Kumar was also present at the meeting. The examination of the electronic speedometer showed the train was running at 81.03kmph when it met with accident, an officer said.

The statements of about 25 railway employees were recorded by the CRS. The SIT also told the CRS that the samples of damaged fastening clips and pieces of rust-stained railway tracks have already been sent to the state forensic science laboratory in Patna and the national metallurgical laboratory, Jamshedpur, for tests. The test report is still awaited, Sushil is learnt to have told Vajpayee at the meeting.

Sources in the railways said chief railway safety commissioner-cum-inspector general (ECR) Atul Pathak would monitor the probe.

Earlier on Tuesday, Vajpayee visited the two hospitals in Patna where the victims are undergoing treatment. He also called on the director of the state forensic laboratory and inquired about the report. Vajpayee, however, refused to share information with the media. I am not supposed to reveal anything. Its a confidential inquiry, not to be shared with the media, he told The Telegraph.

Saran SP Sudhir Kumar said he was in touch with the officials of the railways. I held a meeting with the officials of the railways, which was attended by RPF senior commandant D.K. Maurya and assistant safety commissioner A.K. Gupta, he said.