Twelve coaches, including 11 sleeper coaches and one pantry car, of the 12381 Up Howrah-New Delhi Poorva Express derailed less than 15 minutes after it set off from Howrah Station at 8.15 am on Sunday.
The compartments derailed as the train entered Lilu-ah Station at 8.27 am where it was supposed to make its first halt at platform number 5. Officials said that due to the slow speed of the train there was no casualty although the derailed compartments dragged for about half-kilometre. Coaches S8 and S9 were worst affected.
The driver of a goods train which was at platform number 4 saw the derailment and warned the driver of the Poorva Express. “I waved a red flag at the driver and he applied the emergency brakes after that,” said Jishnu Nandi, the driver. Senior officials of the Eastern Railways, including General Manager Ram Kumar Gupta, rushed to the spot. While some officials said that prima facie it looked like the gangmen had left without fully repairing the tracks, Gupta said that anything could be said for certain only after an enquiry. “The matter will be investigated by commissioner of railways safety and only after that the reason for the derailment could be ascertained,” he said.
A local train brought the stranded passengers to How-rah where they were given refreshments and then sent off to New Delhi at 3 pm in a special train. Train movement through the Up and Down Howrah-Burdwan chord line and Up Howrah-Bandel main line was affected.
Howrah-Bolpur Kaviguru Express and Howrah-Bolpur Shatiniketan Express had to be cancelled after the derailment. A five-member team comprising officers of senior administrative grade, headed by the chief safety officer has been constituted under the instructions of commissioner of railways safety. Three helpline numbers – 26413660, 26402241 and 26402242 have been provided for inquiries.