“Preliminary inquiry shows there was a glitch in the locomotive equipment. No fault was found in tracks or speed restrictions. The equipment will be dismantled first and marks will be checked. The Commission of Rail Safety is conducting an inquiry to find out the root cause of the accident,” Vaishnaw told reporters.
The death toll in the accident climbed to nine on Friday with the recovery of two more bodies at the site.
The accident took place minutes after the train passed the New Domohoni station at 4.53 pm on Thursday.
The train’s assistant loco pilot, Abhishek Roshan, told a local television channel that moments before the derailment there was an unusual jerk in the movement. “I felt the jerk and we applied emergency brakes. When we got out to check, we saw some of the coaches had derailed,” he said.
Twelve coaches of the train derailed. While some toppled off the tracks, one coach was found on top of another.
Sources said a preliminary investigation revealed that Bikaner-Guwahati Express had WAP IV category engine, which has four traction motors. One of traction motors broke down due to which the loco pilot felt the jerk in the movement, said the sources.
The Railway Minister said the disbursement of ex-gratia amount to the families of the victims has begun. “Family of each deceased will get Rs 5 lakh, those who sustained grievous injuries will get Rs 1 lakh and those with non-serious injuries will get Rs 25,000,” said Vaishnaw, who visited the injured passengers at hospital after inspection at the accident site.
At least 36 injured passengers are undergoing treatment at the North Bengal Medical College, Maynaguri Rural Hospital and Jalpaiguri Super Speciality Hospital. The condition of some of them was critical, said sources.
One of the survivors on Friday filed a complaint with Maynaguri GRP against the train pilot. Uttam Roy, a Coochbehar resident, was injured in the accident along with his son. Roy filed the complaint soon after being discharged from Maynaguri Hospital. He claimed that the accident was cause due to the driver’s negligence.
Union minister John Barla, who is the Alipurduar MP, also visited the accident site Friday morning.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, meanwhile, blamed the central government for not focusing on the safety of rail passengers.
“More than 2 crore people travel by train every day in India… The government and Railways are responsible for the safety of that train… But the government is not giving the money needed for safety…. This horrific accident has proved how big a mishap can be if the coach is not maintained [properly],” said Chowdhury, who also blamed poor maintenance of the tracks for such accidents.
Senior CPIM leader Sujan Chakraborty sought a thorough investigation into the incident.
Bikaner-Guwahati Express derailment: Toll rises to 9