Tuesday, March 15, 2016

By S Lalitha The New Indian Express.    14th March 2016 

BENGALURU: Quick thinking by loco pilot (LP) B S Balakrishna Naidu of Prashanti Express, who had applied emergency brakes, brought the train to a halt just 50 metres away from the woman and her infant near the Benniganahalli level crossing. With a sense of huge relief after the hair-raising incident on the tracks, he continued his journey later on. 

Reliving the tense minutes, the 56-year-old loco pilot attached to the Mail and Express Division of the Bengaluru Railway Depot, said, “I was honking loudly and continuously, a normal practice followed by loco pilots whenever a train nears any level crossing. I was stunned to spot a woman, who appeared to be holding a newborn child in her arms, in the middle of the railway track, just 500 metres away. I applied emergency brakes immediately.”

Naidu’s presence of mind saved two lives on Sunday. “The train, which was running at a speed of 60 kmph, came to a dead stop just 50 metres from the spot where they were standing. The mother and child would have definitely died on the tracks if the brakes had not been applied,” Naidu said. He has been a train driver for 18 years out of his 35-year stint in the Railways said. 

Meanwhile, the gateman and public came over and took them both from the spot,” he added. When asked if he spoke to the woman whose life he saved, he replied in the negative. “Due to application of emergency brakes, the train had to be restored and restarted,” Naidu added. It took over five minutes to proceed after that, he said.

When asked if it was his first such experience, the loco pilot, who is due to retire from service in three years, said this had happened quite a few times earlier, particularly when he drove goods trains.

Sharing details of one such incident, he said that an old woman was driven out of her home and came and lay down on the track in Banaswadi some years ago. “I stopped a goods train and that saved her life. I can say that I have had the opportunity to save a few lives in my career.”

Assistant loco pilot Naveen Pallaw was also on board the train.

The manned level crossing connects Banaswadi and Indiranagar and is a busy spot, said a top railway official. “At any given time, when the gate is down, at least 100 vehicles can be spotted here,” he added.

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