29 September, 2020

The Disaster Express

Travellers will continue to pay for one-way tickets unless Indian railways is modernised considerably

The Disaster Express

It was one of the worst train disasters in recent memory. The head-on collision of the Brahmaputra Mail and the Awadh-Assam Express near Jalpaiguri, north Bengal, which killed over 288 people and injured more than 400, wouldn't have happened if someone was simply doing his job. At the Kishangunj station, no one had cared to manually lock the changeover point where one track crosses over the other. This needed to be done to prevent the Mail from changing tracks until the signal was clear. As a result, the Awadh-Assam Express strayed onto the down line. And even when it passed the next station, Panjipara, 19 km away, nobody, not even those at the level crossings, noticed it was on the wrong track. It finally hurtled towards disaster near Gaisal. "The automatic alarm monitor was off and nobody was there to revert it manually. Only a colossal multi-level failure could be responsible," admits a railway official, sheepishly.

The result: a mangled heap, with six carriages of the Brahmaputra Mail literally entrenched within seven of the Awadh Express. Bodies trapped...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

More from Ashis K. Biswas

Latest Magazine

October 05, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section