Negligence of the driver, his assistant and the guard of Turna Nishita Express was responsible for the fatal train accident in Brahmanbaria, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said yesterday.
“The accident occurred as the loco master, assistant loco master and guard of Turna Nishita Express did not operate the train following the signals properly,” he said at a press briefing at the capital’s Rail Bhaban.
The briefing was organised to inform the media about the findings of the probe committees, formed after the November 12 accident that left 17 passengers dead and many others injured.
The minister said the three have already been suspended and further punitive actions would be taken following necessary administration process.
The highest departmental punishment for such a “major offence” is termination from job.
The Dhaka-bound Turna Nishita rammed Chattogram-bound Udayan Express at Mandobagh Railway Station in Kasba early on November 12. The railway authorities estimated the loss from the Brahmanbaria accident at Tk 30 lakh.
The minister said they earlier announced that 16 people were killed in the accident, but figure would be 15 as the name of a victim was mentioned twice.
Two more victims died of injuries at different hospitals on Saturday and Sunday.
Sujan yesterday said 25 injured were still undergoing treatment at different hospitals.
Five probe committees were formed after the accident. The minister said he received reports from three of them and their findings were almost same.
Asked whether fog or construction materials for double-tracking the existing single line caused the accident, the minister said the probe committees did not find any evidence to support such assertions.
“There is no evidence in the reports that he [driver] dozed off. The speed of the train [Turna Nishita] was 70km per hour, but when it hit the other one, it was running at a speed of around 25km per hour,” he said.
Bangladesh Railway Director General Md Shamsuzzaman said the driver, his assistant and the guard had been negligent in their duties.
At one stage, they could understand that they crossed both the outer and home signals, but they did not apply the “emergency brake” that could have stopped the train within a few seconds, he told journalists.
Asked whether only administrative actions were enough for such a fatal accident and whether the three could be brought to book under the penal code for “criminal negligence”, the railways minister said laws for road and rail accidents were different.
Sujan, also a senior Supreme Court lawyer, said the three were held responsible as they were negligent in discharging their professional duties.
Had they caused the accident deliberately, they could have been tried under the penal code, the minister said. “But I don’t think it [penal code] will be applicable to what has happened here.”
Railways Secretary Mofazzel Hossain said nobody expects that an accident would occur, but it can happen even after taking necessary precautionary measures.
“We will take action against those who have shown negligence in performing their duties,” he said.
The DG said although the railway was facing shortage of loco masters and assistant loco masters, the driver of Turna Nishita had necessary training and experience to operate train. Besides, he had necessary rest before starting the trip.
He said they have 1,134 loco masters and assistant loco masters against the demand of 1,742.
Sujan said the probe committees made several recommendations, including installing a CCTV camera inside the cabin of a train driver to closely monitor the activities of the loco master and his assistant.
They also recommended providing regular training to the staffers involved in operating trains and filling the vacant posts of staffers involved in operating trains.
The committees also suggested using more modern devices to maintain communications between the railway stations and trains and introducing an “Automatic Train Stop” system to avoid any head-on collision between two trains.
“We hope such accidents can be avoided if these recommendations are implemented,” the minister said.