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Coromandel derailment raises doubts over bullet trains

india Updated: Feb 14, 2009 15:15 IST
Coromandel derailment raises doubts over bullet trains

Two train mishaps in a gap of 12 hours after Railway Minister Lalu Prasad announced launching of bullet train, have raised doubts on feasibility of such high-speed trains.

While the first mishap took place due to derailment of Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express last evening in Orissa's Jajpur, another occurred when a passenger train collided head on with an engine in Bihar this morning.

"I don't think the Indian Railways is in a position to run bullet trains+, said Thomas Mathew, one of the pasengers of the ill-fated Coromandel superfast express train.

Mathew, a retired teacher from Kerala, said the mishap showed poor maintenance of tracks.

Expressing similar views, senior BJD leader and MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra told reporters after visiting the mishap site that tracks in the country were too weak and fragile to be able to withstand very high-speed trains.

Many passenegers including Dinakar Sarkar of West Bengal also raised doubts over safety in trains. "I don't thnik they can manage bullet trains," doubted B Tami, a woman passenger.

While the authorities were yet to assertain cause of the mishap, many feel that it could be due to human or technical error.

Ruling out sabotage, Jajpur SP D S Kutte told PTI that cause of derailment could be due to techincal snag.

Kutte, however, said that the actual reason of the derailment could be known after investigation by experts.

According to general manager of east coast railway A K Goel, the cause of the accident was yet to be known.

Many railway officials including Goel expressed surprise over the derailment at a place close to Keonjhar-Jajpur Road railway station.

Some railway engineers said inexperienced drivers should not be put on duty in trains like Coromandel Express.

The man who was main driver, was said to be a driver of goods train, an official claimed on condition of anonymity.

Ustav jani, the assistent driver who sustained injuries and admitted at the hospital said the accident was sudden and he was yet to understand what exactly happened.

While some feel sudden application of brake at the speed of above 100 kmph could be a factor behind the accident, drivers see fault on the line, particularly at the junction.

The acident took place when Coromandel Express was changing track after passing through the station.

The local people, however, blamed it on the railway authorities as some goods trains had slipped the rail at the same place earlier.

"Two months ago, a goods train had jumped the rail at the same place," said P Sahu, owner of a sweet stall close to the accident site.

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