‘Train crashed into dead end at CST’

When four coaches tore apart from the rest of a 12-coach rake, railway officials cited material failure. Eyewitnesses and commuters on the train, however, have told Hindustan Times…reports Rajendra Aklekar.
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Updated on Feb 23, 2009 01:28 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRajendra Aklekar, Mumbai

Imagine expecting your local train to move in one direction, and then having it head the opposite way.

That might be anywhere between irksome and amusing, if you’re travelling on clear tracks. But eyewitnesses claim this is exactly what happened at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on Wednesday.

When four coaches got decoupled from the rest of a 12-car rake around 10.30 am, officials put it down to a mechanical fault.

Eyewitnesses, however, have said the 12-car rake actually started according to schedule — but was moving in the wrong direction, heading straight for the dead end at the terminus and smashing into the stoppers at Platform 6, in what could constitute a serious lapse.

“The sound of the impact caused a lot of panic, with people jumping off the train and on to the platform,” Clifford Fernandes told Hindustan Times. “I was surprised to read about the ‘mechanical fault’ in the papers the next day, and see no mention of the crash.”

Fernandes works at a fine-dining restaurant at Fort and was on the train.

Railway officials have admitted that witnesses reported seeing the train smash into the stoppers, headed for the dead end.

“All aspects and probabilities will be examined in our departmental inquiry into the incident,” said Central Railway Chief Public Relations Officer S.C. Mudgerikar.

Traffic was held up for 15 minutes after the train split in two.

“I was seated at a window, facing north — the direction the train was supposed to take, Fernandes said.

“When the train started in the opposite direction, I assumed it was due to the release of brakes. But it soon gathered speed and rammed into the stoppers, causing a minor whiplash.

Immediately, the motorman started the train in the right direction, with no consideration for what damage may have been caused by the impact.”

A railway employee who was also on the train, on his way home, said he too saw it move in the opposite direction. “There was a loud crash and at first I thought it had slammed into another train. Then I realised it has actually moved in the opposite direction and hit the buffers,” he said, not wishing to be named for fear of reprisals. “The train split as it was pulling out of the station.”

“It may be possible that part of the coach scraped some part of the platform,” Mudgerikar said. “The parting was on account of material failure.”

Sources added that there could have been a technical fault as the wheels of the train seem to have been moving in opposite directions, leading to the tension and the split.

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