IT IS shocking that four rooftop passengers were killed and about 30 people injured as four compartments of a passenger train on the Jamalpur–Dhaka route derailed at Tongi on Sunday. Two compartments of the Jamalpur Commuter tilted, after the derailment, panicking rooftop passengers to jump off that caused the causalities. Train communications between Dhaka and other areas but for Narayanganj had been snapped for more than four hours. It shows that the Bangladesh Railway has virtually failed to check rooftop journey of passengers even after repeated fatal accidents. On February 21, four people were killed and two others injured as they were dashed against a footbridge just before they fell off the roof of a Dinajpur-bound train at Raninagar railway station in Naogaon.
As for accident at Tongi, the derailment was caused by signal-related difficulties, as railways officials said. Signalling system is an indispensable tool of railway traffic management which is governed by ‘interlocking’, which can be mechanical, relay and computer-based. With an increase in the number of points and signals, it is necessary to eliminate human errors. The setting of points and signals is so arranged that the cabin man cannot lower the signal for reception of a train unless the corresponding points are set and locked. It is, therefore, necessary for the signal to be interlocked with the points in such a way that no conflicting movement is possible and, thus, safety of a train that is arriving is ensured. Hence, for a proper management of signals, people involved with it must be adequately trained so that they are familiar with all types of the interlocking system to their minute details. It can be said without any exaggeration that the Bangladesh Railway is badly lacking in the efficiency and skills of its human resources.
According to a report compiled by the Accident Research Institute, 38 people were killed and 14 injured in 40 railway accidents this year till March 27. There seems to be a general lack of appreciation for human lives on part of the authorities concerned, which can only explain their lack of seriousness about addressing the issue of so many deaths. What is worse, these casualties hardly lead to any comprehensive or sustained action by the authorities. Such indifference from the railway authorities is tantamount to a crime. All should be made aware of relevant rules to avoid accidents at level crossings and the signal management department needs to be properly trained in no time.
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