While it is sad that 28 pilgrims lost their lives after the speeding Patna-bound Rajyarani Express ran over them, one has to add that it is not the fault of the train drivers and the officials either (Aug. 20). Why were the pilgrims walking on the track? Even if the drivers had applied all emergency measures, the laws of physics would have ensured that it took a while before the train could reduce speed and then stop.
It is equally senseless that locals took the matter into their own hands and dispensed instant justice by beating up the drivers and setting the train on fire. It is time people learn to accept their mistakes.
Kulathendral L., Bangalore
Everybody knows that it is dangerous to walk on railway tracks. Yet, people persist in taking shortcuts — walking on and crossing railway tracks and while using a mobile phone and not using the exit gates and foot overbridges. What about the people who attacked the train drivers and burnt coaches? Will action be taken against them?
R. Ganesh, Chennai
The Rajyarani Express could have been stopped at the outer signal till the congregation of pilgrim passengers moved out of the station. Further, the express train drivers also erred by running the train at 80 kmph on a gradient track, and not sounding the horn. The authorities must have been aware of the flow of pilgrims for days. It could not have been a sudden thing.
As the archival picture shows (Aug.20), things have not changed. In small stations, it is better that there is an automated software voice alert system that keeps alerting passengers over a public address system not to cross the tracks carelessly.
B.V. Kumar, Nellore
The train accident has one fallout — the destinies of several families changed in a few seconds. The engine drivers have been the most unfortunate victims. I wonder why the mob which attacked them remained inactive in regulating or guiding the crowd, an act that could have averted the tragedy
S.P. Sinha, Ghaziabad
This kind of violence and illegal mob behaviour is unacceptable. The authorities were not at fault. Who will pay for the vast amount of property worth crores that was destroyed?
Mahesh Kumar, New Delhi
The local police should have been deployed in the area to ensure the smooth conduct of passengers. The incident shows that authorities are never able to plan ahead or think of situations that could arise. As for the Dhamara Ghat station, a platform and an overbridge should have been built there years ago. When we read about such things, we realise that there are still many parts of the country that are still very backward.
Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge’s observation in the Rajya Sabha (Aug.20) that the driver failed to see the victims is untenable. While he could have done precious little to stop the train on sighting the people, the fact is that he failed to continuously sound the horn from an adequate distance, as provided for in the statute book. Station staff, taking into account the huge congregation, could have stopped the train at the first stop signal and then arranged to pass it so that the driver would have been in full control of the train and stopped it in the event of an eventuality. In the context of the Indian milieu, addressing safety issues, woeful infrastructure and staff shortages must take precedence over bullet trains and superfast corridors.
N. Sadasivan Pillai, Kollam
Keywords: Bihar train tragedy