Twenty-four hours after a grand inauguration in the presence of the entire Yogi Adityanath Cabinet and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, a Lucknow Metro train carrying 101 passengers from Charbagh to Transport Nagar developed a glitch on Wednesday, the first day of its commercial run. The train’s automatic brakes, due to “technical issues”, forced the train to stop suddenly, around 100 metres beyond the second station, Durgapuri.
Passengers were stuck in the train for around one and a half hours before the staff evacuated them through an emergency exit door. The incident occurred around 7 am, when the train stopped between Durgapuri and Mawaiya (second and third stations), triggering panic inside the coaches packed with school children, teachers and senior citizens. Neither the lights nor the air-conditioning system were functional as passengers waiting to be evacuated. The automatic doors of the Metro too were locked. After they were taken out of the train, passengers had to walk across the elevated tracks to Durgapuri station, from where another train transported them to their destinations.
The train that broke down was the second one of five to have been pressed into service on Wednesday. According to LMRC officials, a team of technicians reached the spot 20 minutes after the snag. Mahendra Kumar, director (rolling stock) at the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC), said, “We are investigating what exactly resulted in the emergency brakes being applied. The automated brakes are applied in two conditions; in case of emergency, or if the system senses any fault. The same happened in this case as the system might have sensed something and applied the brakes.”
Asked about the delay in evacuation, LMRC officials said they had initially tried to fix the snag, which took time. “What is important is that during all this, operation of trains on the other track was not interrupted. Trains were running from both sides using the nearest intersections to switch tracks. However, the operation speed was slow because a single track was available that time,” said an official. The faulty train was later pulled to the Transport Nagar depot, where the problem was fixed by late evening, LMRC officials claimed.
“Maximum number of passengers boarded from Charbagh station. By the end of the day, we were expecting the number to be more than 25,000. What is interesting here is that till 2 pm the number was just 7,500 and most of the passengers boarded the train even after the news of the technical fault,” said an LMRC official earlier in the day, adding that these faults are “a result of their cautious safety features”. “We should be prepared for these things as they might occur for some time,” the official added.
While most passengers seemed excited about their very first Metro experience, some complained about the long queues at the ticket counter and expressed confusion about stations, claiming that the audio announcements were not working inside the train. Metro officials later said that the fault in announcements inside the train has been sorted out.