Three people were killed and three others were injured when a diesel multiple unit (DMU) on its way from Ferozepur to Jalandhar rammed a tractor-trolley at the railway crossing at Wariana village near here on Saturday morning.
The gateman had reportedly failed to close the level-crossing barrier.
The deceased are two railway employees -- loco pilot Harbhajan Singh (55) and DMU fitter Paramjit Singh (55), residents of Ferozepur Cantt -- and tractor driver Chhote Lal (35), resident of Randhawa Masanda village in Jalandhar.
The injured have been identified as travelling ticket examiner Logginus Tirkey, assistant loco pilot Abhay Kant Diwakar and safai sewak Surinder Kaur. They were admitted to a private hospital.
The preliminary investigation by the railways has held gateman Brijesh Kumar responsible as he failed to ensure that the level crossing was closed at the time of the passage of the train. The gateman, who was reportedly said to be asleep at the time of the accident, fled the spot.
According to slum-dwellers living nearby, the impact of the collision was so strong that the tractor-trolley was dragged by the train for a good kilometre. They said the train driver regularly honked the horn as the train reached near the railway crossing but the gateman did not pay heed, leading to the accident.
The front portion of the engine was also badly damaged. The two railway employees and the tractor driver were killed on the spot.
According to information, the train started from Khojewala railway station near Kapurthala at around 8.35 am, and a signal was sent to the gateman, who received it but failed to close the barrier.
Karamjit Kaur, an eyewitness, said the passengers came out of the train as it came to a halt, and along with villagers, helped in taking out the injured.
Karan, who lives nearby, alleged that a few weeks ago also, the gateman had failed to close the barrier as a train was about to pass.
An accident relief train from Ludhiana reached the spot and the damaged engine was taken to the Khojewala station. Senior officials of rural police and government railway police rushed to the spot. Divisional railway manager NC Goyal inspected the accident site and talked to families of the victims.
Meanwhile, the railways has announced Rs 50,000 in compensation for the family of tractor driver Chhote Lal. A three-member committee has been formed to conduct an inquiry into the incident, which will submit its report in 10 days. Gateman Brijesh Kumar has been suspended and is yet to be nabbed.
The railway authorities claimed that Paramjit and Tirkey were illegally travelling in the driver's cabin.
A case under Sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC besides Sections 174 and 175 of the Railway Act has been registered against the gateman.