The guard of the killer Uttarbanga Express, Somnath Sengupta, has said that he had applied the runaway train’s emergency brake after the driver did not respond to him on the walkie-talkie. But the brake failed and the speeding train rammed into the Vananchal Express at Sainthia station on Monday, killing 61 people.
“After getting no response from the driver’s cabin, I pulled the emergency brake – but it didn’t work,” said Sengupta after an 80-minute interrogation by railway officials at the Sainthia station in Bengal’s Birbhum district on Wednesday.
Sengupta is the key witness in the collision, which is shrouded in mystery as the Uttarbanga Express hurtled down the Sainthia station’s Platform No. 4 at a speed close to 90 kmph before crashing into the stationary Vananchal Express.
The driver and his assistant didn’t respond to red signals and calls from the station manager who tried to stop the train.
Besides, the killer train was not diverted to another line, which former locomotive drivers have told HT is mandatory in such a scenario.
Forty-eight hours after the Sainthia disaster, the Railway Safety Commissioner and his team interrogated other railway employees and eyewitnesses at the Sanithia station on Wednesday.
Mohammed Nayeem, the driver of the Vananchal Express, who appeared before the probe team, said, “We didn’t start the train as the guard didn’t give us the signal. We spent 11 minutes at the platform for this reason.”
He told the media that he got the green signal from the Sainthia station at 1.54 am, minutes before the accident, but couldn’t move as the final signal was not available from the guard.