IN PHOTOS: Goods train collides with Kanchanjungha Express in Bengal; 9 dead, 41 hurt

On June 17, a goods train collided with the stationary Sealdah-bound Kanchanjungha Express near Rangapani station in West Bengal's Darjeeling district, resulting in the deaths of at least nine people and injuries to 41 others. The impact caused four rear compartments of the passenger train to derail. Pics/ PTI

Updated On: 2024-06-17 08:10 PM IST

Compiled by : Sanjana Deshpande

On June 17, a goods train collided with Sealdah-bound Kanchanjungha Express near Rangapani station in West Bengal's Darjeeling district, killing 9 & injuring 41.

Among the deceased were the pilot of the goods train and the guard of the passenger train. Senior West Bengal Police officials, however, reported a higher casualty count of 15. The injured were taken to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital for treatment.

Railway Board Chairperson Jaya Varma Sinha stated that the collision occurred because the goods train disregarded a signal. An investigation into the cause of the accident has been initiated by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences, calling the incident tragic and praying for the swift recovery of the injured. He posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, expressing his sadness over the accident and offering condolences to the bereaved families.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw visited the accident site, arriving on a motorbike due to the narrow roads. He assessed the relief operations and announced compensation for the victims: Rs 10 lakh for the families of the deceased, Rs 2.5 lakh for those grievously injured, and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries.

Passengers described the sudden stop and loud noise that accompanied the collision. One passenger mentioned that the train stopped abruptly with a sharp jerk, and upon disembarking, he saw the goods train had hit their rake from behind. A pregnant woman fell off her seat due to the impact, likening it to an earthquake.

The collision happened at 8.55 am when the Kanchanjungha Express was stationary. The goods train's locomotive caused the rear compartments of the passenger train to derail. Internal documents revealed that the goods train was allowed to cross all red signals as the automatic signalling system had failed.

The Railway Board's initial findings indicated that the goods train driver violated signal regulations and exceeded the permissible speed limit, leading to the collision. The driver was supposed to proceed cautiously at speeds not exceeding 15 kmph under good visibility conditions and 10 kmph under poor visibility.

The accident caused significant disruption to train services. The Kanchanjungha Express resumed its journey to Kolkata with passengers in the unaffected coaches, while several long-distance trains were rerouted through the Siliguri-Bagdogra-Aluabari zone.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the site and criticised the railways for neglecting passenger amenities and focusing only on fare hikes. She alleged that the railways had become "parentless" and accused the ministry of prioritising beautification over safety and service.

Governor CV Ananda Bose also visited the accident site and the hospital. He emphasised the importance of prioritising the treatment of victims over engaging in a blame game, calling for immediate attention to the injured.

The CRS has commenced a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident, aiming to determine the exact circumstances that led to the tragic collision. Steps will be taken based on the findings to prevent similar incidents in the future and to enhance railway safety protocols.

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