Thursday, August 24, 2017


Bhubaneswar, Aug. 23: Mumbai-bound Lokmanya Tilak Express travelled for almost 4km on the wrong route before the train's guard noticed the error and got it back on the right track. In the process, the train got delayed by two hours in reaching Angul.

Though the error did not lead to an accident, but the incident raised the hackles of railway officials here as it comes barely a few days after 24 people lost their lives when the Kalinga-Utkal Express derailed near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh.

The train was diverted on to the wrong route from Machapur in Cuttack district late last night for around 4km before being reversed to its original path. While denying any safety issues arose because of the wrong routing of the train, the East Coast Railway (EcoR) today suspended Machapur stationmaster Chadrabhanu Samal for the lapse in diverting the Puri-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Express.

The incident took place on a day railway minister Suresh Prabhu offered to step down taking moral responsibility for the spate of train accidents in recent months. It was also coincidental that on the day the human glitch happened, minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha inaugurated several projects through videoconference from Rail Sadan here.

The error involving the Lokmanya Tilak Express took place after it left Cuttack at 11.45pm yesterday. The train was to pass through Rajathagarh station after crossing the intermediary Machapur junction, which is 125km from Puri. But from Machapur, the train was diverted in the wrong direction and was crossing Radhakishorepur when the guard first noticed the error. He immediately intimated the matter to the chief controller over phone. The train was halted and brought back to Machapur junction. From there it was routed towards Rajathagarh. But the episode delayed the train by two hours and five minutes by the time it reached Angul.

The train takes two minutes to cover the distance between Machapur and Rajathagarh, but the wrong routing delayed it by two hours. It finally crossed the intermediary station at 1.55am. According to the schedule, the train is expected to arrive in Mumbai at 7.30am tomorrow.

"We take such errors seriously and have placed the stationmaster under immediate suspension. We have also ordered a probe into the incident and the report will be submitted tomorrow. Based on the report, we will initiate further action," said EcoR's chief public relations officer J.P. Mishra.

However, the railway officials denied any safety concerns for passengers. "The Machapur stationmaster gave the go-ahead after finding the signal on the route clear. So, it would not have led to a mishap. But the error led to delay in timings on the route," said a railway official.

Later in the day, Sinha laid the foundation stone for a road overbridge at Khetarajpur in Sambalpur. He also inaugurated an electric traction on the newly electrified section between Sambalpur and Jharsuguda. Sinha also launched free WiFi services at Khurda Road railway station.

"The progress of a state is linked to the railway infrastructure, but states like Odisha were neglected in terms of railway connectivity for years. So, priority is being given for funding pending projects. Work on Khurda Road-Balangir, Haridaspur-Paradip and Angul-Sukinda lines are being monitored at the highest levels," Sinha said.

Khurda Road became the fifth station after Bhuban-eswar, Cuttack, Puri and Sambalpur to have free Wi-Fi. Railway officials said seven other stations, including Balasore, Bhadrak, Berhampur, Jajpur-Keonjhar Road, Jharsuguda, Rayagada and Rourkela will also get the service soon.


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