Guwahati, Jan 14: Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday visited the site in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district where the Bikaner-Guwahati Express train had derailed on the previous day, leaving nine dead and at least 36 injured.
He conducted an inspection of the tracks and the locomotive involved in the accident, a Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) spokesperson said here. The cause of the accident is yet to be ascertained and a committee has been formed to investigate it, she said.
Twelve coaches of the Bikaner-Guwahati Express train had derailed and some of them capsized near Domohani in Jalpaiguri district on Thursday. NFR’s Chief Public Relations Officer Guneet Kaur said that Vaishnaw arrived at Domohani railway station at 9.38 AM and proceeded to the derailment site within two minutes by a motor trolley. “He conducted a trolley inspection to ascertain the condition of the track and fittings,” Kaur said. At the accident site, the minister conducted a thorough inspection of the underframe of the locomotive and its braking system, she said.
NFR General Manager Anshul Gupta reached the spot at 12.08 AM on Friday, and is supervising the restoration work of tracks for normalisation of train movement, Kaur said.
“An inquiry committee has been formed to find out what caused the derailment,” Kaur told PTI. She said that the death toll in the incident has risen to nine, with three of the deceased yet to be identified.
The number of injured currently stands at 36. While 23 passengers are undergoing treatment at a super specialty hospital in Jalpaiguri, six are admitted to the North Bengal Medical College and seven at Maynaguri Rural Hospital, she said.
NFR GM Gupta visited various hospitals on Thursday night and early on Friday to check the condition of the injured patients. The CPRO said that evacuation of passengers was completed at 10 PM on Friday night and a special train had left the accident site at 9.50 PM with 290 stranded passengers for Guwahati. The special train has reached Guwahati railway station around 8.30 AM on Friday, Special DGP (Law and Order) GP Singh said in a Twitter post. There were 1,053 passengers onboard the train at the time of the derailment, an NFR statement had said on Thursday.
The Railways has announced ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the accident, Rs 1 lakh to the grievously injured, and Rs 25,000 for passengers with simple injury.
“Now that the passenger relief operation at the site is complete, restoration work will start in full swing for normalisation of train movement under the supervision of the NFR general manager,” she said. At least 10 trains, mostly intercity and DEMU trains, have been cancelled on the affected route on Friday, while a couple are being short-terminated or short-originated. Another 10 long-distance trains are being diverted through alternative routes, the CPRO added.