Siliguri: Such is the level of safety Indian Railways is maintaining these days that an express train today got uncoupled from its engine thrice while on the run!
As the engine kept on moving, the coaches with hundreds of passengers on-board remained stranded in the middle of nowhere. In one of the three instances, it was for 40 minutes that the train remained stranded.
This has happened to 22501 Bangalore-New Tinsukia Weekly Express today while it was passing through Bihar and north Bengal on its way to Assam.
It was at Kishanganj in Bihar that the train’s engine first got uncoupled from the rest of the coaches in the wee hours today. But since it was dusk hours and the train was at a slow speed due to fog, the driver and the guards realised this soon.
The couplings between the engine and the coaches were re-joined and the train left for its onward journey. But this was short-lived.
As the expressed train was doing 70-kmph and passing through Jalpaiguri district in north Bengal, around 9 am the engine again got uncoupled and at went ahead leaving the coaches behind. This happened after the train crossed Mujani station and was approaching Madarihat.
Passengers travelling by the train were woken up from there morning sleepiness due to a jerk as the moving coaches came to a standstill all of a sudden. By then, the engine had gone ahead almost a km without the driver getting the slightest wind that the rest of the train is not moving along.
After about 40-minutes, the engine rolled back. The couplings were joined and tightened again and the stranded train resumed the journey.
As if that was not enough, the couplings un-joined again as the train was entering Alipurduar town. This time, however, the driver discovered quickly after the engine moved ahead about a hundred metres or so.
The train finally left Alipurduar at 2.50 pm, by a delay of 11 hours than scheduled, after the couplings were repaired. The three uncoupling incidents during a journey of 230 km from Kishanganj and Alipurduar have raised serious questions about the maintenance of trains now a day.
What is appalling is that on at least two of the occasions, the train staff did a poor job as regards re-joining the couplings between the engine and the coaches.
Asked to explain this, the divisional commercial manager of Northeast Frontier Railway’s Alipurduar division, Subimal Sen, said that he is yet to get a detailed report on why and how this has happened.