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    Railways Turning Into A Death Bed

    Out of sheer habit I switch on my TV set early morning to get hold of any overnight breaking news that I might have missed while sleeping at the same time going over the morning news paper. Today can't be any different on that way but certainly different on the news that I got via the idiot box. Yet another train accident, with more than 50 dead (though the wreckage suggest the toll might be double than this) and hundreds injured and Mamta didi rushing to the spot somewhere from Delhi taking a much needed break from her ever so busy schedule of gun battle with the left. Honestly I was not expecting this horrific news as a breaking one within 60 days of Janeswari express accident, which also unfortunately unfolded early morning on the idiot box.

    The nature and style of this particular accident reminded me the infamous Purusottam and Kalandi express collision back in 1993 where Purusottam express rammed into the stationed Kalandi express killing more than 300 odd individuals on that fateful night. Here the Uttarbanga express smartly rammed onto the stationed Vananchal express causing few boogies of Vananchal express fly out and land on the foot over bridge nearby. Though unlike the Janeswari express incident, the hands of Maoists or any sabotage is ruled out here, but still the whole thing is disturbing. It is more disturbing after hearing the whole sequence of events that leads to this collision as narrated in TV.

    The scheduled departure of Vananchal express at Sainthia station is around 9 P.M in the evening, and the records suggests that the train did arrived at the station as per scheduled. It baffles me, if that is the case then what on earth made the authorities to keep the train stationed at the platform for more than 5 hours and let it go just around 2 P.M, seconds before the collision occurred? As expected when the concerned authorities are far from giving any concrete answers to this mystery few eyewitness claim the train was stationed as some vegetable vendors are busy unloading vegetables from the luggage van. Goodness me, are we talking about Indian railways or some personal property at the mercy of any one's disposal? If this is not good enough a reason to get you annoyed, then why Uttarbanga express, which has a scheduled stoppage at the said station was travelling at a speed more than 80 K.M/hour while entering the station is another mystery in itself. For sure it would take quite some doing in solving all these mysteries, counting the dead and writing consoling letters along with compensation pay cheques for the railways authorities.

    Why our railways is so accident prone? Why we have the worst railways minister of the world at the helm? Why aren't we learning anything from our past mistakes? Are we really any serious in making our railways a bit more safer? There are enormous number of such uncomfortable questions for the railways authorities to answers - starting with Mamta didi and down. Our tracks are pathetic. We are still running with the mechanism of Mughal era installed by the Firangies. We do have, perhaps the laziest and grossly underpaid set of track maintaining staffs. No new technology used to ensure passenger safety which other countries are using. Our tracks are as easy to sabotage as snatching a lollipop from a kid's hands. Last but not the least our authorities are more confused than a baby in a topless bar when asked to clarify on all these short comings. And to top it all we have a railways minister who just doesn't want to shoulder her responsibilities and takes the railways as a stop gap arrangement for her and gives some time whenever she is free from her full time CPIM bashing.

    Have you ever marked the chap flashing that filthy green & red flags at stations whenever a train passes? When the world has moved ahead leaps and bounds in using technology for passenger safety we are still waving those handheld flags as a safety barrier. Where is that much touted anti collision mechanism that the Railway ministry was boasting about few years ago? They boasted a lot, floated a tender and perhaps have eaten away a lot of public money in the process and conveniently slept over the whole issue. Ironically none questioned the subsequent development on that direction.

    I was once fortunate enough to go to a routing cabin present at the starting of any station, where all signals are managed and so as the track alignment. Trust me the technology they use to make sure no wrong happens gave me a rude shock to say the least and made me wonder, if it is really judicious to travel in Indian rail. In the name of technology what they have is a simple circuit board having the root map drawn in the surface of it with coloured LEDs all over it depicting the signal tower positions along the track. Would you believe the whole system is run by a single 8085 processor? The modous operandi is funnier even. All they have in the name of communication system is a telephone to get the info from the previous station whenever they let go a train pass that station heading towards their station. Once these guys get that info, they get into there business of turning all the signal towers green to let go the train pass through and turning them red once the train passes a particular tower so that any train coming from behind would stop looking at the red signal. Isn't it funny? Knowing the capability of 8085, it is very much a possibility that the said processor can give in at any given time and throwing the whole system out of gear in a jiffy. More disturbing is the nature of all those switches used for operating the signal towers remotely. Would you believe the whole system operate on a simple 8 bit data transfer mechanism. Honestly the signal mechanism of the toy train system of Funschool is far superior than that of our railways.

    Let me not talk about our tracks quality and physical safety that we deploy, as it is for any one to see and guess. I am sure for this latest accident yet another scapegoat in the form of, either a lines man or a guard would be found with Mamta didi honouring us with her ever so irritating Bengali ascent for few days and all would go to hibernation till the next accident occurs. In the mean time mothers would behave as if her son is going to the front to fight a war or something, every time her son travels in the railways and to thrash away any incoming danger, giving her son a spoon full of Misiti Dahi, as a gesture of good luck , before the journey begins (sometimes right on the platform). And conveniently as ever Mamta didi would go back to her den to over see if all rifles and bullets are in store with required amount for her next round gun battle with the CPIM and we lesser mortals running around life insurance companies before we board the train. Jay Ho ! indeed...


    1. Is anyone sent me the train accident passed away passenger list. i have
      Email me: pradipindia@yahoo.co.in

    2. Sorry Paradip, I don't have the list with me. Why don't you call the reilway help line numbers flashed in TV screens. Can check Times Now channel for the same. Hope none of your dear ones are in the accident.