Rail Minister urges ‘train Kavach’ after accident that left 15 dead

| Updated: 18 June, 2024 11:00 am IST
The accident occurred in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district when three coaches of the Sealdah-bound Kanchanjunga Express derailed after being struck by a goods train. (Image: X)

NEW DELHI: In the recent rail accident that took place on Monday, June 17, at least 15 passengers were killed and 60 injured. The accident occurred in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district when three coaches of the Sealdah-bound Kanchanjunga Express derailed after being struck by a goods train.

The incident involved the goods train hitting the rear of the express train, damaging the guard compartment and two parcel vans, along with a passenger coach ahead of the vans. In the TV footage, it can be seen that the impact caused one train compartment to rise vertically. The Kanchanjunga Express, a daily service connecting West Bengal with northeastern cities, is popular among tourists heading to Darjeeling.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacted to the incident on Twitter and shared his condolences with those who lost their loved ones; he also informed that the rail minister would reach the site soon.


Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced enhanced ex-gratia compensation following the accident. He said in a Twitter statement that 10 lakh rupees would be provided to the deceased’s family, while people who suffered severe injuries would receive 2.5 lakh, and ₹50,000 would be given to those who suffered minor injuries.


He emphasized the need for “Train Kavach,” a device designed to stop trains if they come too close to each other to prevent such mishaps from occurring at the site of the mishap.


West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also expected to visit the accident site in New Jalpaiguri to oversee relief efforts, stated on Twitter, “DM, SP, doctors, ambulances, and disaster teams have been rushed to the site for rescue, recovery, and medical assistance. Action on war footing initiated.”

 

On the other hand, Sabyasachi De, spokesperson for Northeast Frontier Railway, stated that three railway personnel were among the deceased. Jaya Varma Sinha, Chairman and CEO of the Railway Board said in a media statement, “An initial investigation suggests human error. However, a detailed investigation will ascertain the exact cause.”

Adding further, she said: “The driver and assistant driver of the goods train and the guard of the Kanchanjunga Express have died in the incident. Rescue operations are complete and efforts to clear the tracks are underway.”

India’s railway network is one of the world’s largest, with over 12 million passengers travelling daily through 14,000 trains. This incident comes just after last year’s devastating crash involving three trains in Odisha killed 275 people and left more than 1,000 injured—India’s worst rail accident in a century.

Despite significant investments in upgrading infrastructure and safety measures, accidents remain frequent, often attributed to human error or outdated equipment.

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