Is the Tamil Nadu Express Jinxed? It would appear so given the accident track record of the train, now 36 years old. Monday’s fire incident is only the most gruesome fire to befall the TN Express, which was once the fastest on the Chennai-Delhi route, and which has often shot off the track too.
The TN Express has met with at least ten accidents.
The first instance of derailment of the train, which was introduced in 1976, was on February 8, 1977 near Vijayawada; no one was injured in this incident or in the next derailment on the Nagpur-Itarsi section in Maharashtra on October 29, 1978.
As many as 15 persons were killed and 39 others injured when 14 coaches derailed near Asifabad Road Station in Andhra Pradesh on august 31, 1981 – the speed of the train was reduced after this mishap.
Two years later on June 5, 1983, seven coaches jumped the rails near Kazipet. Once again, four coaches derailed on July 23, 1984 under Vijayawada division.
The first instance of fire was in Delhi, when on December 4, 1984, one of its coaches was gutted and two others were partially damaged. None were injured.
On February 26, 1986, a fire consumed the first class coach of the train between Agra and Gwalior injuring three persons. On November 7, 1987, two passengers were killed and 30 injured when 13 coaches derailed on the Amla-Nagpur section.
An empty train collided with the TN Express on February 4, 1990 at Mathura Station in Maharashtra. There were no casualties.
Incidentally, incidents of fire in trains have shot up alarmingly, particularly in the southern region. As many as four trains have fallen victims to fire accidents in the first seven months of 2012.
Apart from Monday’s incident at Nellore, one coach of the Hampi Express caught fire after it rammed into a goods train killing as many as 25 people in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh on May 22.
The Chennai-Alappuzha Express caught fire in Perundurai station in Erode district of Tamil Nadu on June 29. No one was injured.
The CPI(M) Politburo charged that the blaze underscored the absence of safety measures and accused the Railway Minister of being least bothered about the upkeep of trains and their safety.
The BJP too questioned the Prime Minister with its chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad wondering if the government was functioning or not.