Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday expressed her displeasure over the train accident near Mathura, and ordered a comprehensive overhaul of safety measures.

On Wednesday, the Goa Express rammed the Mewar Express.

Agra Divisional Railway Manager R. D. Tripathi was transferred and replaced by the Dean IRITM, Lucknow, Devesh Kumar Mishra. The Railway Board also directed the Senior Divisional Signal and Telecom Engineer, Agra, and the Senior Divisional Electrical Engineer Operations, Jhansi division, to proceed on leave, after Ms. Banerjee convened an emergency meeting. She made it clear that there could be no compromise on people’s safety.

The Minister convened the board meeting to review safety aspects, in the wake of Wednesday’s collision, particularly because the accident occurred inside the automated block section. The Goa Express driver had an excellent track record. Ms. Banerjee said the accident exposed systemic shortcomings, and asked the board members to formulate rigorous norms and enforce discipline. The Minister called for a mid-career training course for all loco pilots, and upgrading the signalling system and monitoring it more stringently. She sought a detailed report on what action had been taken during the past one year and half to strengthen safety.

Earlier in the day, the board took stock of the situation before its meeting with Ms. Banerjee. The board decided to go in for further automation and to reduce dependence on manual effort. The stress was on imparting more training to drivers and on fresh recruitments to fill vacancies.

Railway probe begins

Even as Ms. Banerjee announced the decision to ask the CBI to probe Wednesday’s accident, particularly because the emergency chain was pulled to bring the Mewar Express to a halt, the Railway Safety Commissioner P.K.Vajpayee commenced his statutory probe, visiting the accident site and questioning the driver, the guard and assistant guard of the Goa Express. The train had overshot the signal and rammed the moving Mewar Express from behind.

Ms. Banerjee decided on the CBI probe in an attempt to address the various conflicting causes attributed to the accident.

Three police personnel, who pulled the emergency chain of the Mewar Express, in their bid to prevent an under-trial prisoner from escaping from their custody, were arrested and remanded to judicial custody. They lodged a complaint with the police that the under-trial prisoner escaped in the chaos that followed the accident.

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