The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani starts, buffaloes block

Hyderabad, Aug. 10: Two buffaloes today ground to a halt, albeit for a short while, the country’s first multi-modal transport system launched here by deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani yesterday.

The sleek silver and blue train, carrying 350 people from Bora Banda to Hitech City station, derailed when it rammed into the buffaloes, which had strayed on to the track, at a speed of 80 km per hour around 11.45 am.

Two wheels of the electric engine went off the right rail and furrowed into the gravel to its left under the impact of the collision. There were no casualties and damage to the train in the mishap that could have turned ugly. The buffaloes were crushed under the wheels of fourth and fifth coaches.

The six bogies remained firmly on the rails and railway personnel, who rushed to the site near Bora Banda station, put the engine back on with the help of a hydraulic lift. Traffic resumed two hours later after the carrions were removed and the train chugged off to Secunderabad station for thorough checking.

“It was a strange incident as two buffaloes climbed the 20 to 25-feet-high embankment of the track and entangled (with the train) causing derailment of two wheels of the engine,” said Stanley Babu, chief general manager of South Central Railway. The incident highlighted the need for protection of the MMTS track from stray animals and unauthorised traffic, he added.

Irked by the accident only on the second day of operation of the Rs 160-crore transport module, the railway ministry has directed the formation of a committee to work out strategies for track safety and protection of the route.

“The committee will report within seven days on measures to be effected to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the MMTS in future,” a railway ministry announcement said.

The unique transport system provides for rail-road coordination with special buses from the stations allowing the commuters to reach their destination. “A joint ticket is issued for both the train and road journey,” said Babu.

Considered the cheapest urban transport module in the country, the system has a flat fare of Rs 5 to 6 for the economy class and a first-class fare between Rs 41 to 50.

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