Kerala Kaumudi Online
Wednesday, 17 April 2024 6.08 PM IST

Two train disasters that were averted


This past Sunday, Indian Railways averted two major tragedies only by luck. One such accident was averted due to the timely intervention of an elderly couple living near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. A freight lorry overturned from the road above the Kollam-Tirumangalam rail and fell on the track barely ten minutes before the Palaruvi Express from Tirunelveli to Palakkad came through this route. Shanmugan and his wife Vadakkuthayi, who live nearby, rushed to the accident site after hearing the frightening sound of the lorry hitting the tracks. Seeing a disaster ahead, they did not waste a single moment and walked a long way along the track carrying a torch. That was when they saw the train coming. As the couple signalled danger by flashing the torch in hand, the loco pilot was able to stop the train on time. Thus, a major train disaster was prevented thanks to the valour of Shanmugan and his spouse.

It took about eight hours to move the freight lorry that fell across the track and the plywood loaded on it from the track and straighten the track to resume the train traffic. The Palaruvi Express to Palakkad had to remain there all this time. The journey of other trains on this route was also interrupted. The train accident that could have happened there was prevented only because of Shanmugan and his wife who skipped their sleep and set out to save the lives of innocent people. Had the accident taken place in a sparsely populated state, it would have resulted in massive tragedy. The propriety shown by Shanmugan and Vadakkuthayi to signal danger by flashing a torch to the loco pilot of a speeding train without hesitation should be appreciated. Railways and the government should come forward to honour and reward such people appropriately. It will also give a good message to the society.

Another scary news that we came across on Sunday was about a freight train which ran for nearly 80 km without loco pilots. The freight train, which was set to travel from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir to Punjab, was stopped at Kathua for the change of duty of the loco pilots. The train was on a small slope. It is not clear what happened. The train slowly descended without the drivers and moved forward. No one could do anything to stop the speeding train from moving forward. Fortunately, no accidents took place as the authorities made immediate arrangements at stations and level crossings to allow the train to pass through. Finally, the driverless train was stopped by placing sacks carrying sand and huge pieces of wood on the tracks. By then, the train had covered eighty kilometres. The preliminary investigation revealed that the loco pilot might have got down without applying the brakes, which caused the train to run on its own. The Railway Board has ordered a detailed investigation.

Many train accidents in the country are caused due to the negligence of the employees. The probe into every rail accident ends up in this conclusion. Considering the fact that even a minor mistake can affect the lives of many passengers, we will become aware of the need to strengthen security matters tenfold. Although the driverless journey of the freight train did not cause any danger, the safety flaws that it puts forward must be flagged.

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