Darkness at dawn

Published: Friday 15 September 1995

THE horrifying train accident near Ferozabad in the wee hours of August 20, which claimed at least 400 lives when the Delhi-bound Purushottam Express rammed into a stationary Kalindi Express, brings some distressing questions regarding the adequacy of railway safety measures to mind.

The railway safety sistem incorporates an inter-locking signal device, which indicates, by way of the green and red lights, whether the line is clear of traffic or not. Once a train crosses the first signal (starter), the system has to ensure that the signal remains red till the train crosses the next signal (advance starter).

In this particular crash the Kalindi Express had failed to cross the advance starter. It stands to reason that the starter signal should have remained red for the benefit of the oncoming train.

Only a fair inquiry would reveal the real reason behind this gruesome tragedy. But as often happens on such occasions, the likely out-come, as 'senior railway officials' had indicated, has been to hold responsible a petty railway employee, in this case the cabin switchman.

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