The driver of the Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) that met with an accident near Arakkonam in Vellore district on Tuesday night was speaking on his mobile phone just before the collision. The Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment MEMU rammed the rear of the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train, resulting in the death of ten passengers and injuries to several others.
Police investigation has revealed that driver A. Rajkumar was speaking on his mobile phone (8056017713) with a friend between 9.17 p.m. and 9.21 p.m. After the call got disconnected, his friend called back and they spoke between 9.21 p.m. and 9.23 p.m. The time of collision has been recorded as 9.27 p.m. though the time on the mobile phone and railway records may vary, police sources said.
“When we examined Rajkumar at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on Thursday, he denied having used his mobile phone and said that he always kept the instrument in silent mode while at work. The call details record speak otherwise…it is possible that he missed the signals by oversight or distraction,” Deputy Superintendent of Police (Railways) V. Ponran told The Hindu on Friday.
He said when Rajkumar's friend called a little after 9.30 p.m. an unidentified person who attended the call told him that he was injured. Thereafter, the mobile phone was not in the possession of the driver. “It appears that someone took the phone from the mishap scene...we are trying to locate it,” he said.
On the instructions of the Inspector-General of Police (Railways) Sunil Kumar, a special team visited the accident spot between Melpakkam and Chitheri railway stations and studied the signalling system there. Rajkumar claimed that he saw the signal turn green from yellow and increased the speed of the MEMU to 75-80 kmph.
The Commissioner of Railway Safety (Southern Circle) S.K. Mittal, who inspected the accident scene, commenced his enquiry. He examined the driver of the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train and the guard of the MEMU. He also interacted with Rajkumar and enquired into the circumstances that led to the accident, railway sources said.
Keywords: Arakkonam train tragedy