The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cracked track close shave for train

Siliguri, Sept. 26: Passengers of the New Jalpaiguri-bound Darjeeling Mail had a close shave this morning when a railway employee detected fissures in the tracks between Barsoi and Telta 30 minutes before the train was to pass through.

The train, packed with holiday-makers, was stopped barely 1.5 km ahead of the fissures.

A Northeast Frontier Railway official said the gangman was on a routine check when he detected the fissures. The train resumed journey 45 minutes later after repairs he said.

In a similar incident, a railway employee spotted a chequered plate missing on a bridge between Burdwan and Talit stations of Eastern Railway at 8.55 am.

The Rajdhani Express and three other long-distance trains were stopped at different stations and services resumed only after a speed restriction was imposed on the bridge.

Railway authorities, however, claimed that running trains on a bridge with a chequered plate missing is “not unsafe”, agency reports said.

This is the second time in a week that passengers of long-distance trains have had narrow escapes in the region. On September 19, the Sealdah-bound Teesta-Torsa Express derailed at Mahipal Road Station in Malda division of Eastern Railway.

“We were lucky to escape unhurt,” said Rohini Lama, a passenger of the Darjeeling Mail. “We shudder to think what could have happened if the fissures had not been spotted.”

Anupam Yonzon, another passenger, said residents of the area had stopped the train. “When some of us got off to inquire, they told us they had spotted the cracks and informed the railway authorities,” he said.

Railway officials, however, denied reports that villagers had spotted the fissures and had stopped the train. He said fissures in tracks were common and caused usually by “the thermal action of expansion and contraction”. Railway staff routinely check for such fissures, they added.

In Bihar, railway and police officials checked tracks for missing fish plates and bombs after posters appeared in Mughal Sarai division threatening to derail the Jodhpur Express. Officials said the posters on the bridge between Rafiganj and Aurangabad carried signatures of MCC extremists. However, neither was any bomb found nor any fishplates missing, said the Aurangabad superintendent of police.

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