Prima facie a human error: Railway Board chief on Kanchanjunga Express accident | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Prima facie a human error: Railway Board chief on Kanchanjunga Express accident

Jun 17, 2024 04:11 PM IST

Three of the eight people who have died in the Kanchanjunga Express accident were railway employees

NEW DELHI: The goods train that rammed into a Sealdah-bound Kanchanjunga Express in West Bengal killing at least eight people appeared to have “disregarded the signal” to stop, Railway Board chairperson Jaya Varma Sinha said on Monday.

Onlookers watch as rescuers work after a cargo train rammed into Kanchanjunga Express, a passenger train, near New Jalpaiguri station in West Bengal (AP)
Onlookers watch as rescuers work after a cargo train rammed into Kanchanjunga Express, a passenger train, near New Jalpaiguri station in West Bengal (AP)

“Prima facie, it appears to be human error but we will know more after the inquiry,” Sinha told reporters. “Unfortunately, the driver (of the cargo train) also perished in the accident… So we have no authentic way of knowing what exactly happened. Whatever we can gather from the situation, it seems there was a disregard for the signal,” she said.

The accident took place at about 8:55am about 10km from New Jalpaiguri station in north Bengal, one of the largest and busiest stations in the Northeast Frontier Railway zone that covers eastern and northeastern India.

The Kanchanjunga Express, which originated in Tripura’s capital Agartala, was headed to Sealdah station in Kolkata.

Three of the eight dead were railway personnel, said Sabyasachi De, spokesperson of the Northeast Frontier Railway. Only one of the four compartments at the rear of the passenger train, which derailed due to the impact, was a passenger coach, the remaining three were carrying cargo. De added that five wagons of the cargo train carrying containers also derailed.

Images from the accident spot showed the tangled wreckage of compartments flipped on their side, with one compartment rising vertically in the air.

Railway officials said compartments of Kanchanjunga Express that were intact were cleared from the site and left for Malda town.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the accident as “saddening”. “Condolences to those who lost their loved ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest. Spoke to officials and took stock of the situation. Rescue operations are underway to assist the affected. The Railways Minister Shri @AshwiniVaishnaw Ji is on the way to the site of the mishap as well,” PM Modi said in a post on X.

Vaishnaw said enhanced ex-gratia compensation of 10 lakh would be given in case of death, Rs.5 lakh in case of grievous and 50,000 in case of minor injuries.

To be sure, the loco pilot’s body has questioned the railway statement blaming the driver for the accident. “It is highly objectionable to announce the dear loco pilot responsible when he is dead and CRS inquiry pending,” Sanjay Pandhi, the working president of the Indian Railway Loco Runningmen Organisation (IRLRO), said, according to a PTI report.

A PTI report also said the automatic signalling system between Ranipatra Railway Station and Chattar Hat Junction in West Bengal, where the goods train hit Kanchanjunga Express in the rear, had been defective since 5:50am.

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