Bengal train accident: Railway Board says anti-train collision system not in place on mishap route

The Railways' ‘Kavach' or anti-train collision system was not in place along the Guwahati-Delhi route, where a goods train collided with the Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express in the rear on Monday, a top official said.
West Bengal - Kanchanjunga Express train accident
West Bengal - Kanchanjunga Express train accident

New Delhi/Kolkata | The Railways' ‘Kavach' or anti-train collision system was not in place along the Guwahati-Delhi route, where a goods train collided with the Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express in the rear on Monday, a top official said.

Chairperson of the Railway Board Jaya Varma Sinha said that Kavach, an automatic anti-collision train protection system, is being planned for the route.

"It is not there right now," she said.

Pointing towards a possible “human error” on part of the loco pilot of the goods train who succumbed to injuries from the accident, Sinha said the collision near New Jalpaiguri may have happened because the goods train disregarded the signal and hit the Kanchanjungha Express, which was on way to Sealdah from Agartala.

According to the chairperson, five people died in the incident. However, some local reports attributed to senior West Bengal Police officials put the toll at 15.

"Five passengers have died. The loco pilot of the goods train and the guard of Kanchanjungha Express have also lost their lives. About 50 passengers have been injured and they have been admitted to the North Bengal Medical College," Sinha said.

She said a guard's coach and two parcel vans of Kanchanjungha Express were destroyed and it was because of these three coaches, the passenger coach didn't get much impact.

"The general compartment has also been impacted. Our priority was to rescue passengers. It has been completed now. Our area officer and his team reached the accident site, which is 10 km from the New Jalpaiguri station," Sinha said.

The chairperson also asserted that safety is the first priority of the Railways.

"We are doing everything to ensure that train operations remain safe," she said.

Stating that the implementation of ‘Kavach' is being done on a mission mode, Sinha said it is already functional in 1,500 km of railway tracks, while another 3,000 kms will be added by the end of this year.

She said the production of the safety system has to be ramped up by the suppliers for ensuring faster implementation of the Kavach project across the country's railway network.

Sinha said the injured were shifted to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri and were being treated there.

"Local people reached the spot. State and district administration officials also arrived at the location. The NDRF, Army and others, too, reached the spot for rescue," she added.

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