Bikaner-Guwahati Express mishap occurred due to mechanical snag: Min

KOLKATA: Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday visited West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district, where the Bikaner-Guwahati Express met with an accident a day ago, and said that preliminary reports suggested there was "some issue" with the equipment of the locomotive.

At least nine people were killed and 36 injured after 12 coaches of the express train went off the rails on Thursday, some of which overturned or were found mounted on top of another, near Domohani in Alipurduar subdivision of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

The minister said that the actual reason behind the accident would be ascertained only after dismantling the engine's equipment. He also paid a visit to injured passengers at the hospital.

Vaishnaw along with senior officials of Railways visited the site on Friday morning. He along with the officials inspected the tracks on a motorised trolley. He also inspected the locomotive and the ill-fated coaches.

Later, after meeting the injured at the hospital, the Union minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was continuously monitoring the situation. "I am in constant touch with the PM and regularly briefing him about the situation," he stated.

The minister also visited North Bengal Medical College, where the injured passengers are receiving treatment. He said most of the injured passengers had received the ex-gratia given by the ministry of Railways.

With the death of three more persons late on Thursday night, the toll went up to 9. Relatives of the passengers, who are receiving treatment, thronged the hospital to know the conditions of their near and dear ones. Two ministers from Rajasthan came to the hospital as some of the injured passengers are from their state. Rajasthan government will give Rs 1 lakh to those seriously injured, it was announced on Friday.

There were 1,053 passengers onboard the express train at the time of the derailment. NFR General Manager Anshul Gupta, who reached the site of the derailment at 12.08 am on Friday, is currently supervising the restoration work of tracks for resuming normal train movement at the earliest.

Heavy-duty cranes were engaged to remove the ill-fated coaches. Steps have been taken to restore the portion of the track that was badly damaged due to the accident. The sleepers were replaced and overhead electric lines along with the electric poles got repaired.

At least 10 trains, mostly intercity and DEMU trains, have been cancelled on the affected route on Friday, while a couple were short-terminated or short-originated. Another 10 long-distance trains were diverted through alternative routes, the CPRO said.

Sanjay Kumar, a passenger of coach S- 10, who had boarded the train from Agra on way to Guwahati said the accident took place at 5 pm. "There was massive jerk and the train stopped. I took some time to understand what had happened. I was rescued by the local people," he said.

Pradeep Kumar, driver of the train, said: "The line was clear and the train was moving at normal speed and all the signals were green. Suddenly there was a jerk and I had applied the brake. I got down from the engine and found one of the traction motors had collapsed."

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