Yet another train crash; 100 hurt
Lucknow/ Auraiya: Just four days after the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express accident near Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, in which 23 people were killed, tragedy struck again on the rail tracks in the early hours of Wednesday. Over 100 passengers were injured as 10 bogies of the Kaifiyat Express derailed in UP's Auraiya district after dashing against a dumper carrying construction material for railway work, officials here said.
Auraiya Superintendent of Police Sanjay Tyagi said that 10 bogies of the train derailed of which one overturned leading to injuries to 100 passengers of which four with serious injuries were rushed to Saifai and Etawah hospitals. Some of the injured were discharged from hospitals after first aid, the SP said, adding that there is no report of any casualty so far.
The train travelling from Azamgarh to Delhi collided with the dumper at around 2:50 am between Pata and Achhalda railway stations, a spokesperson for the North Central Railway (NCR) said. Secretary, Home, Bhagwan Swarup said that the accident took place due to a loader carrying material for work on dedicated freight corridor.
"The accident took place because of a loader carrying sand for track working for dedicated freight corridor. It overturned and came on the track," he said. "It was not an unmanned crossing. But there was a road parallel to the track on which the loader overturned," he added.
DRM (Allahabad) S K Pankaj, who reached the accident site, told newspersons that prima facie, it was the fault of the driver of the private dumper who has fled. The disrupted rail route between Kanpur and Etawah will be restored by Thursday, he said and added that repair work on the route was going on.
The Kaifiyat Express travels between Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi and the collision has impacted the train operations on the Delhi-Howrah route. Five trains, including the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, had to be diverted and seven trains, including the Kanpur-New Delhi Shatabdi Express, were cancelled.
Since both the UP and DOWN lines were blocked, around 40 local trains too were diverted. A North Central Railway spokesman said that rescue operations have been concluded and all the injured sent to hospitals nearby. Additional forces and ambulances were rushed to the spot from Auraiya, Etawah and Kannauj while an NDRF team was dispatched from Lucknow to the accident site.
Prabhu offers to quit, Board chief resigns... Lohani replaces him
New Delhi: Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has taken "full moral responsibility" for the recent spate of train accidents and indicated on Wednesday that he offered to resign at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The minister met the Prime Minister after a Cabinet meeting and left the city soon after.
"I met the Hon'ble Prime Minister @narendramodi taking full moral responsibility," Prabhu said in a tweet. Modi, he added, had asked him to wait.
Railway Board Chairman A K Mital has resigned and the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet appointed Air India chief Ashwani Lohani in his place. "Necessary communication in this regard has been sent to the Ministry of Railways," the appointments committee said.
An officer of the railway mechanical service who had earlier served as the divisional regional manager in Delhi, Lohani was also the India Tourism Development Corporation chairman and headed the Rail Museum in the Capital. Mital is a 1976-batch officer of the Indian Railway Stores Service.
The Congress on Wednesday accused Prabhu of having "utterly failed" in his job and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sack him and appoint a "responsible person" in the position. This "responsibility business" would not do, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said while stressing that Prabhu had to resign.
Surjewala was referring to Prabhu's tweet that he took "full moral responsibility" for the recent train accidents and indicating that he had offered to resign in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also urged the Prime Minister to appoint a responsible person in his place and draw a safety map for the railways.
"This responsibility business will not do. Either prime minister should sack the railways minister or he should accept his resignation. It is time for the prime minister to come forward and lay down a roadmap of safety for the railways," the Congress leader told reporters. Sending a member of the Railway Board on leave or suspending junior officers was not enough.
Two days before he retired in 2016, Mital, said to be close to Prabhu, was given a two-year extension. He was scheduled to retire in 2018 and would have been the longest serving chairman of the Railway Board if he had continued.
In the last five years, nearly 53 per cent of the 586 train accidents have been caused by derailments.