Will the Railways soon have a separate facility for transporting undertrials?
Whether or not that happens is a moot point, but the Railway Board is seized with the matter after the collision of two trains in October, when an undertrial pulled the chain in a bid to escape and another train rammed into the halted train from behind.
The authorities brought up the issue at the recently held meeting of zonal general managers. According to sources, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has just about given her nod to the board to probe options to transport undertrials more safely so as not to cause any hardship to passengers or disrupt the movement of trains.
The choice is a tough one, as providing such a facility in all trains would entail heavy cost, besides eating into space that can otherwise be utilised commercially. The authorities are presently contemplating segregating undertrials altogether to prevent them from getting access to the emergency chain or coming in contact with passengers.
The authorities, however, are clear that the undertrial could not be held responsible for the October 21 accident. On the day, the Goa Express rammed into the Mewar Express near Mathura, killing 22 persons. The undertrial was being transported in the Mewar Express.
Railway officials concede that his action could not be taken as an excuse for the accident, as any train can be brought to a halt for any number of reasons, including a genuine emergency.