Bengal train accident: Kanchanjunga Express scheduled direction reversal turns tragic for some, lucky for others

The express train was struck from behind by a goods train at Rangapani, near New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.
Last Updated : 17 June 2024, 11:23 IST

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Jalpaiguri: A scheduled operational procedure at Lumding, which involves a direction reversal for trains passing through the station, turned into a life-altering event for passengers in the front and last coaches of the 13174 Agartala-Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express on Monday.

The express train was struck from behind by a goods train at Rangapani, near New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. The direction reversal at Lumding in Assam meant that the coaches which were initially at the front became the rear end of the train.

A passenger in a sleeper coach located in the middle of the rake said, "The affected coaches were in the front till Lumding."

He explained that after the direction reversal, the affected four coaches — a general seating coach, two parcel vans, and a guard van — were at the rear end. The general seating coach was the most affected, being thrown onto adjacent tracks, he added.

"Our train was moving very slowly when it reached Rangapani, a few kilometers from New Jalpaiguri," the passenger recounted, standing beside one of the mangled coaches.

Another passenger described a sudden, sharp jerk accompanied by a loud sound, and the train stopped abruptly. Upon disembarking, he saw that the goods train had hit their rake from behind.

"We were having tea when the train stopped suddenly with a jerk," he said. A pregnant woman, traveling with her family, said she fell off her seat upon impact.

"It felt like an earthquake. It took us some time to collect ourselves and understand what happened," she said, sitting with her family in one of the air-conditioned sleeper coaches.

A local man, who was among the first to start rescue operations, mentioned that the express train was moving slowly when the faster-moving goods train rammed into it from behind.

Visiting the accident site, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista said rescue work was carried out despite inclement weather. "Our primary concern is to help the affected passengers," he said.

Siliguri mayor Goutam Deb, who also visited the accident site, emphasized the need for anti-collision devices in trains to ensure passenger safety. "Instead of spending huge amounts on bullet trains, the priority should be installing safety devices in trains," he said.

Published 17 June 2024, 11:23 IST

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