Ground-level lapses in maintenance work carried out near Muzaffarnagar may have led to the derailment of the Utkal Express on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh, the Railway Ministry said on Sunday, according to IANS.
“During our visit to the accident site, we found that some repair equipment were kept on the track side,” Railway Board member Mohammed Jamshed said at a press conference, according to The Hindu. “One reason [for the mishap] could be that there was some repair work going on, and precautions may not have been taken.”
The Puri-Haridwar-Kalinga train went off the tracks near Khatuali on Saturday evening. The toll in the mishap, which rose to 24 on Sunday, is expected to rise further as around 20 of the 156 injured are believed to be in a critical condition.
“Prima facie, it seems maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks,” Jamshed told reporters, according to PTI. “An investigation will reveal what caused the accident.”
Earlier on Sunday, people living near the site of the accident claimed that maintenance work was going on in the area just before the train got derailed. However, Divisional Railway Manager (Delhi) RN Singh had claimed that “it was just some routine work”.
Government Railway Police files case
The Government Railway Police filed a case under various sections of the Railways Act for the endangering the safety of passengers through negligence and damaging railway property. “We will ascertain the prima facie cause and take strict action against the responsible officer,” Jamshed said.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday directed Railway Board Chairperson AK Mittal to find out who was responsible for the Utkal Express derailment by the end of the day. “We will not allow laxity in operations by the [Railway] Board,” Prabhu said on Twitter. “I have directed the CRB to fix responsibility based on prima facie evidence by the end of the day.”
Of the 13 coaches that got derailed, one rammed into the facade of a local college and the other crashed into a house. Workers were brought in from Panipat to clear the tracks, PTI reported.