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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Driver dozed off, pressing brick against accelerator

Bangladeshis call it 'auto-brake'; the train keeps moving till the pedal feels a load on it; the driver placed a brick on it and fell asleep

Another train accident in Bangladesh has claimed 15 lives. In the collision between two trains, hundreds are left injured. The tragic accident happened due to utter disregard for work ethics by one of the drivers. A preliminary investigation into the accident has revealed a shocking piece of information that the driver and assistant of Tulla Nishitha Express had fallen asleep on duty.

Before the driver and his assistant both fell asleep, they pushed the engine’s auto-brake with a brick. In what makes the callousness worse, the brake applies when the pedal is released rather than when a load is placed on it, which means, in effect, what Bangladeshis call the brake is actually the accelerator. The driver and his assistant dozed off after ensuring the train keeps moving!

Driver Taheruddin, his assistant Apu De and guard Abdur Rahman have been suspended for negligence in the discharge of their duty.

According to Bangladesh Rail sources, the accident took place near the Kasba police station in Brahmanbaria district around 3 AM on Tuesday. The Udayan Express was heading from Chittagong and Tarna Nishita was heading to Dhaka. Two trains collided head-on near the Mondavag railway station.

Railway officials in Bangladesh say the train runs on an auto brake system. The train goes off when the brake system detects a foot or a heavy object on the pedal. Unless the load is lifted, the train does not stop. The driver and his assistant pressed a brick on the pedal for the train to keep moving.

In the wake of the tragic but freak accident, three separate inquiry committees have been constituted to investigate the real cause of the tragedy, said Railway Ministry Secretary Mofazzal Hossain.

One of the two trains was Udayan Express. Udayan Express was changing the railway at Akhaura Railway junction. That’s when two trains collided head-on. Trains between Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka-Noakhali and Chittagong-Sylhet have been stopped since the accident.

Akhaura Railway Police Station Officer-in-Charge Shyamla Kanti Das said 12 people died on the spot in the impact. Three more died at the hospital later.

After the accident, locals first came to the rescue of the injured while also helping in extracting the dead from the train debris. The injured were rushed to a local hospital. Police, fire service, railway and local administration rescue teams arrived at the scene shortly thereafter. Besides, two relief trains were sent from Akhaura and Laksam railway junctions.

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