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Day after 2 deaths, four travelling on footboard of overcrowded EMU killed
With two back-to-back mishaps of people being killed in a similar fashion at Mount, questions are being raised about SR not augmenting train capacity despite rise in passenger traffic
A series of unfortunate events, triggered by a technical glitch that rendered a track useless and drastically reduced the number of trains - which in turn led to overcrowding - resulted in the death of four youngsters at St Thomas Mount suburban railway station on Tuesday morning.
The accident happened merely hours after another at the same spot claimed two lives.
In both instances, the victims were either school/ college or office going youths – all aged between 16 and 23 – who had clung on to the door handles and travelled perilously on the footboards of the overcrowded EMUs. When the train from Beach to Tirumalpur reached 40 minutes late due to overhead traction (OHT) failure at Kodambakkam station, there were over a thousand commuters waiting at each of the stations.
In contrast, there would be one EMU every five minutes on a regular day. Due to the OHT trouble, the train reached platform 4 instead of the second platform as usual, reportedly at a high speed. It was the loud cries from the passengers and those waiting at the platform that alerted others about the mishap.
By then, passengers travelling on the footboard on third and fourth coaches had hit a post supporting the footover bridge and also the concrete fence on the platform, killing four on the spot and injuring seven.
Though it was the snag in the OHT that led to the diversion, the deaths have also raised questions about the Southern Railway not augmenting train capacity despite recording a sharp rise in passenger traffic, especially after TN hiked bus fares in January.
Though passenger volume shot up to nearly 10 per cent, the Chennai Railway Division added only 11 additional trains – less than two per cent of the existing train strength. Meanwhile, DRM Naveen Gulati said, “We are operating trains to the capacity. But we will still study the possibility of running more trains.”
DEATH ON THE TRACK
- Four persons, including two students, travelling on the footboard in an overcrowded EMU – plying from Chennai beach to Tirumalpur – were killed and seven others injured after they hit a concrete fence on platform no 4 at Thomas Mount railway station
- Though initially there were no police personnel visible at the accident site, only after senior officers started reaching the scene did more personnel reach the spot
- The main reasons being cited for the mishap are: overcrowded train, late arrival of train, stopping at platform 4 instead of 2 and high speed
- The deceased are P Sivakumar, 19, a BCom II year student, R Bharat, 16, a Class 12 student, J Naveen Kumar, 23, an engineering graduate from Foreshore estate and another unidentified person
Headquarters kept in the dark about Mount mishap
The Chennai Railway Division has kept the zonal headquarters in the dark about Monday night’s double death at St Thomas Mount station.
A principal HoD of Southern Railway (SR) revealed that no alert about Monday’s tragedy at St Thomas Mount was sent to the headquarters (zone) by the division. When DTNext contacted the zonal headquarters about the authorities not suspending service till review of safety on Chengalpet bound fast line from Egmore, the senior SR officer said, “We were not even alerted. Where does the question of issuing advisory come in? Unless there is a report on the previous incident, how would we issue instructions on suspension of suburban service on the fast line?”