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Drunk man drives pickup van on railway track in Jharkhand

The incident happened hours before Railway Board chairperson Ashwani Lohani was to tour the East Central Railway’s (ECR) Dhanbad division for the first time.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2017 17:48 IST
Vishal Sharma
People walk on railway tracks on the Harbour line route in Mumbai.
People walk on railway tracks on the Harbour line route in Mumbai.(HT File Photo/Representative image)

A drunk driver drove his pickup van on a railway track near Daltonganj in Jharkhand’s Palamu district until his vehicle was stuck but alert workers managed to avert an accident by stopping the incoming Tata-Amritsar Express train barely a few kilometres away from the site, officials said on Friday.

They said the incident happened late on Wednesday between Rajhara and Lalgarh railway stations on Barwadih-Son Nagar section of the East Central Railway’s (ECR) Dhanbad division. It occurred hours before Railway Board chairperson Ashwani Lohani was to tour the division for the first time.

They added the driver, identified as Ashok Paswan, started driving his pickup van on the track towards Lalgarh after entering through an unmanned railway crossing at Panjari village.

“The train had almost crossed the up green signal of Rajhara and it would have reached the location in five to six minutes,” a railway official said.

Rail traffic inspector Arvind Kumar Sinha said the driver of a passenger train on the opposite line noticed the stuck vehicle and alerted the station master of Rajhara station Suman Baitha asking him to stop the movement of trains on the route.

“Baitha then informed MK Mandal, the driver of the express train that was crossing the station, over walkie-talkie beside rushing shunt man Pradeep Sao with a red light to stop the speeding Amritsar-bound train. The train stopped in time averting a major mishap,” Sinha said.

“Fortunately, no major mishap occurred as a team of alert railway employees ensured that the fast approaching Tata-Amritsar express, running on the same track, was stopped in time,” he added.

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) teams from Daltonganj and Garhwa Road stations had a tough time in pulling out the trapped vehicle from the railway line. The movement of trains on the route was stopped for over five hours as railway officials removed the vehicle from the track.

Senior railway officials said the names of the employees, who acted swiftly and averted an imminent accident, will be recommended to divisional railway manager and the zonal general manager for rewards.

“The driver was arrested and sent to jail. He was booked on charges of deliberately trying to hit the train and endangering the safety of passengers. The vehicle was also confiscated,” RPF inspector Arun Ram said.