North Bengal-bound Radhikapur Express from Calcutta averted a major accident when the train driver brought it to a screeching halt on spotting a sand-laden truck stranded on the tracks near Ballalpur station in Murshidabad in the early hours of Monday.
Two compartments and the engine were derailed as the driver had to apply emergency brakes to stop the fast-running train to avoid an immediate collision with the truck.
Eyewitnesses claimed that at least four wheels of the engine also caught fire unleashing panic among the passengers. However, no passenger was injured in the incident that occurred between Dhulianganga and Ballalpur station in the Malda division of Eastern Railways around 1.45 am on Monday.
Divisional Railway Manager of Malda Bikash Chowdhury and other senior railways officials rushed to the spot after the accident. The passengers of the derailed train were rescued and brought to Farakka for medical examination.
Railways Protect Force has begun a probe into the accident. However, the reason behind the stranded lorry coming onto the railway track could not be ascertained immediately.
“A major accident was averted due to the alertness of the driver of Radhikapur Express who applied the emergency brake in time. We have begun a probe to ascertain how the lorry came onto the railway tracks,” the DRM Malda said.
The stretch of the railway track is adjacent to NH12, which is being widened at present. Local sources said that there was a level crossing at the spot earlier where the lorry had entered the track.
“The place is now used as an unauthorized parking zone for cargo vehicles that carry construction materials. The sand-laden lorry was parked on the spot on Sunday night. But it is not clear how it rolled on to the tracks”, a railway official in Malda said.
After preliminary investigations, railway officials claimed that most probably the stationary vehicle moved onto the track as it was parked on a slope consisting of loose soil.
“The exact reason could not be ascertained so far. A probe has begun and we are examining all aspects including the possibility of a conspiracy”, an official said.
Train movement on the stretch was disrupted for several hours.