5 footboard travellers die in freak train accident in Chennai

By Balasubramani Muniyandi Published on Jul 24, 2018 01:57 PM IST

Chennai: Five people travelling on the footboard were killed this morning, and seven others suffered injuries when they fell from a packed suburban EMU train here near St Thomas Mount Railway station.

Police sources said the mishap occurred when the packed EMU fast train was proceeding to Thirumalpur from Chennai Beach around 9 am.

Fellow commuters in the train said the backpacks of the passengers hit the concrete wall in a curve while the train entered the station. Police said after preliminary inquiry that three of the deceased, who had a fatal fall today were identified as school student Bharath and college students Praveen Kumar  and Sivakumar

The process of identifying the fourth and fifth victim was on, Railway Protection Force (RPF) Inspector General of Police Veerendra Kumar said. The train was unusually overcrowded as it was delayed due to the snapping of overhead power cables between Mambalam and Kodambakkam stations.

RPF personnel and those from the Government Railway Police (GRP) and fire service personnel rushed to the spot and shifted the bodies to the government hospital for autopsy.

The seven injured, of which one of them was said to have lost his lower limbs, were admitted to the Government Royapettah Hospital. Additional Police Commissioner Sarangan visited the spot and held a preliminary inquiry.

THE GLITCH

According to sources, electric lines connecting Kodambakkam with Mambalam stations were damaged at 7.45 am owing to which there was a delay in train services for a while on the usual Chennai Beach - Tambaram route.

As the regular services did not run for a while, people got into fast local trains more than usual. Fast trains ran as normal trains, halting at every station.

Soon after Train No 40701 which left Beach station for Tirumalpur reached St Thomas Mount Station at 8.30 am commuters clinging on to the footboard hit the divider at the station resulting in the death of five persons and injury to others.

Some trains ran slow owing to this development and passengers reached their destinations late.

GRIM REMINDER

The unfortunate incident at St Thomas Mount station serves as a grim reminder to what happened at Pazhavanthangal railway station in 2017. Travellers were hanging on the footboard when the bag of one of the travellers got stuck inside a pole. His attempts to save himself led to the mishap.

BRING DOWN THE WALL

Enraged commuters said frequent accidents have been occurring on this stretch and wanted the side concrete wall to be demolished, a demand which GRP ADGP C Sylendra Babu conceded. He said it would be removed at the earliest.

They also wanted operation of more trains during peak hours to avoid such incidents. Talking to reporters after inspecting the accident spot, Sylendra Babu said the concrete wall has been there for the last several years and steps would be taken to demolish the side concrete wall.

"Till then, trains will not be operated on this stretch', he added.

He also appealed to people to desist from travelling on the footboard

for their own safety and said it was very dangerous. Stating that the train was packed more than the usual capacity, he said, "If the train is full, the commuters should either wait for the next train, or take a bus, instead of travelling on the footboard."

GOING AGAINST ADVICE 

Observing that a train could only take a certain number of people, he

said the GRP and RPF personnel were advising commuters not to

travel on the footboard and advise them to go inside the coach.

But the commuters do not pay heed to them, resulting in such incidents, he said.

Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan visited the Royapettah Government Hospital and enquired about the treatment being given to the seven injured.

Authors: Balasubramani Muniyandi

S Vishnu Sharmaa