Three train derailments rocked the Railways within a span of 12 hours on Thursday — three days after new Railway Minister Piyush Goyal took charge, leading him to order an immediate review of safety standards.
On top of the derailments, a major accident was averted in Uttar Pradesh’s Farrukhabad by alert locals. But there were no casualties or injuries to any passengers in all the incidents.
The day started on a bad note for the Railways when seven coaches of Shaktipunj Express derailed near Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh at 6.20 a.m.. The train was coming from Howrah in West Bengal and was headed to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
In the second incident which took place in the national capital around 11.45 a.m., the engine and power coach of the Rajdhani Express derailed near Shivaji Bridge Railway Station (formerly Minto Bridge).
The train was coming from Ranchi to Delhi and it derailed while approaching the New Delhi Railway Station.
Following the derailment, the Northern Railways cancelled nine trains and diverted five.
In the third incident, two wagons of a goods train derailed near Khandala Monkey Hills in Maharashtra around 3.55 p.m.
Meanwhile, a major train accident was averted during the day as the locals alerted the driver of the Delhi-Kanpur Kalinga Express about a crack in the track. The driver was able to stop the train immediately.
Following the news of three incidents, Goyal directed the Railway Board to undertake immediate measures to address train derailments.
He chaired a high-level meeting on safety in train operations with the members of the Railway Board and officials of its Safety Directorate.
A comprehensive review of safety was undertaken and Goyal emphasised on setting the safety in train operation as top priority.
Unmanned level crossings and derailments due to defects in tracks were identified as two major causes leading to accidents.
Goyal said that safety is paramount and “there cannot and should not be any compromise on this front”.
“Track replacement or renewal should be accorded priority and the procurement of new rails should be expedited on a large scale with a view to completing construction of new lines in time,” he said.
The Minister also directed to stop the manufacturing of conventional Integral Coach Factory-design coaches, and said that only new Linke Hofmann Busch coaches should be manufactured.
He asked for installation of anti-fog LED lights in locomotives so that unhindered safe train operations can be ensured during winter season through fog.
Goyal was appointed the Railway Minister on Sunday replacing Suresh Prabhu, who had offered to quit in the wake of Kalinga Utkal Express derailment on August 19 near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh in which 22 people died and over 150 were injured.
On August 23, over 100 passengers were injured when 14 coaches of the Kaifiyat Express derailed in the stat’s Auraiya district after hitting a dumper.
Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mittal resigned after the train derailments and was succeeded by Ashwani Lohani.