Sutlej Express mishap due to 'failure of railway staff': Report

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New Delhi, Jan 23 (UNI) The collision between the Ludhiana-Firozpur Sutlej Express and a mini bus at a manned level crossing on December 12 last year, in which 16 bus passengers perished, was due to ''failure of the railway staff'', a preliminary inquiry report has revealed.

The Sutlej Express had collided with a mini bus while it was on the run between Jagraon and Ajitwal railway stations on Ludhiana-Firozpur section of Firozpur Division in Punjab.

Sixteen mini bus passengers died, eight were grievously injured and six received minor injuries as a result of this accident.

''The accident occurred due to failure of Railway staff,'' said the statutory inquiry, conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Northern Circle.

The Commissioner has sent his preliminary report for consideration of the Central Government.

In its recommendations, the Safety Commissioner said that for the 'C' class manned level crossing gates, having normal position as closed to road traffic, where the TVUs (Total Unit of Vehicles) is more than 25,000, the gate working instructions should be changed.

Accordingly, the ASM (Assistant Station Master) should exchange the private number with the gateman in confirmation of closure of level crossing gate before 'line clear' is given for train or the train is dispatched into the block section.

''The private numbers shall not be exchanged too early so as to cause detention to road traffic by more than 15 minutes at these level crossing gates,'' said the report.

In case of TVUs being less than 25,000, the Railway should review the working of the level crossing gates and keep them open for road traffic.

''A drive should be undertaken by the Railway Administration to counsel the gatemen to plant red banner flag across the track during the day and hand signal lamps displaying red light during the night before opening the level crossing gate,'' the Safety Comissioner said, making a strong case for conducting surprise checks.

During heavy fog, the Loco Pilot must run the train at a reduced speed, depending upon the braking distance of the train and the extent of visibility.

Also, a booklet/chart giving these details can be prepared by the Railway Administration for the benefit of the Loco Pilot and Assistant Loco Pilot. Additionally, it should be incorporated in the Working Time Table, said the report.


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