A day after senior officials at the Indore railway station denied allegations that the S1 and S2 bogies of the ill-fated Indore-Patna Express were running on damaged wheels, they came out against media reports claiming that the train was speeding at the time of the accident.
Reports said the train was running at 110 kmph, three times the permissible speed limit of 33 kmph on the Orai-Kanpur stretch.
The distance between Orai and Kanpur Central is 106 km, and – as per the schedule – the train should take around 192 minutes to cover the distance.
“The investigation panel will record the locomotive driver’s statement and find out the speed at which the train was running at the time,” an official said on the condition of anonymity.
He said the train’s speed limit may have been lowered to 33 km last week due to maintenance work on the tracks, “but allowed to speed up” after its completion.
According to the officer, procedure dictates that every locomotive driver run the train within the prescribed speed limit. If the driver happens to cross the 110 mark, the speed gets registered in the log book automatically – and he is required to answer for it upon completing his shift.
Team of technical staffers has reached accident site
Western Railway senior public relation officer Jitendra Kumar Jayant said a high-level probe has already been launched, and a team of technical staffers – including those who performed maintenance work on the ill-fated train – has reached the accident site to assist in the investigation.
“Usually, the maintenance team gets only six hours to service a train of 21 to 24 coaches,” Jayant said.
He said there was no possibility of investigators visiting the Indore coaching depot because their officials were already assisting them at the site.
LIC to settle insurance claims of the deceased on a war footing
Meanwhile, a three-member team from the Indore divisional office of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) met officials at the railway station on Tuesday. They sought a list of deceased and injured people from Indore, so insurance claims in that regard could be settled on a war footing.
According to local railway officials, as many as 23 passengers from Indore lost their lives and several others were injured in the accident. A total of 145 people have died so far, and 190 injured.
“We wanted to settle all the claims as soon as possible. Once the victims’ relatives provide their policy numbers, we will settle their claims on the same day. Paperwork will be kept at a minimum,” said KK Agrawal, customer relationship manager, LIC Indore division.
‘Even people who have lost their policy number will not face any problems’
The official said even people who have lost their policy number will not face any problems. “They can simply submit their name and date of birth, and our agents will immediately procure the required information from their databases,” he added.
As the Indore-Patna Express was completely decimated in the accident, the Western Railway will use the rake from a bi-weekly train plying the same route for the purpose. Sources said the idea was to utilise an alternative rake without disturbing trains that were already in service elsewhere. “We always maintain a back-up rake to meet any emergency, and this is what we are going to use from Wednesday,” said Jayant.
While 14 of the 23 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express were completely decimated, the remaining nine are in no condition to run.