The railway authorities yesterday found mismanagement of railway lines maintenance behind Wednesday’s derailment of the oil carrying train in Rajshahi’s Charghat upazila.
Of the train’s 30 oil tankers, eight veered off the lines in outer Sardaha Road Station area around 6:00pm on Wednesday, damaging around 500 metres of the lines heavily, they said.
Because of the damage, the authorities could not complete the salvage operations.
Rail communications with Rajshahi remained snapped as of 9:00pm yesterday. Schedules of at least 19 passenger trains from Rajshahi were also cancelled, they added.
The cancellation caused sufferings for thousands of passengers, especially for the pilgrims who were going to the capital to catch their flights to Saudi Arabia.
“Our engineers primarily detected a spread of gauge that caused the oil train derailment and we found a portion of the rail lines broken,” Khondoker Shahidul Islam, general manager of west zone railway, told The Daily Star.
“We can’t see nothing else but mismanagement of rail lines maintenance,” he said, adding that the incidents of spread of gauge or breaking of rail lines happened due to a lack of scheduled maintenance.
Witnesses and railway engineers who visited the scene said the railway lines of the spot lacked required amount of stone and sleeper. They said bad weather and torrential rain aggravated the situation.
Meanwhile, the authorities suspended Assistant Engineer Abdur Rashid, who was responsible for the rail lines maintenance, for his negligence in duty and formed a five-member committee to probe the incident. The team began probing the incident.
The probe body has been asked to submit its report within three days, finding the cause of the accident and persons responsible for it.
Talking to this newspaper, Abdullah Al Mamun, the probe body chief and divisional transportation officer, said their main target was to resume rail communications.
Due to bad weather, the rescue operations began five hours late at 11:00pm and a 100-strong team of engineers and labourers managed to rescue seven of the eight derailed oil tankers by 9:00pm.
It took more time to rescue four oil tankers, each weighing around 50 tonnes, as those were in a bad condition, said Mizanur Rahman, Pakshey divisional railway manager.
After rescuing the tankers, the authorities sent those to Harian Railway Station and rebuilt the railway lines as sleeper, ballast and rail line were totally damaged in the accident, he added.
A good number of passengers experienced immense sufferings as the authorities failed to provide them with clear information about the train schedule.
The authorities returned over Tk 26 lakh to some 7,000 passengers of trains, whose schedules were cancelled, until 2:00pm yesterday. They then stopped accepting tickets for returning money as the ticket counters had a shortage of money, said AMM Shahnewaz, chief commercial manager of west zone railway.
Mehedi Hasan of Chapainawabganj was taking his parents to the haji camp in the capital yesterday as the parents were scheduled to catch a flight on Saturday night.
He bought train tickets, but returned those as the schedule of their train was cancelled. He did not manage bus tickets as the demand for bus tickets went high after the train accident.
“I chose train journey as I think it is safe and sound. It is my bad luck,” he said.
Hasan added that if the authorities could not restore the rail communications as of yesterday evening, they would have to get in a local bus to reach the capital in time.
Mainul Hasan bought a train ticket for going to Dhaka to join a private job yesterday. “I will hold the railway authorities responsible if I cannot join my job by today [yesterday] evening.”
The platform of Rajshahi Railway Station was full of passengers all day long.
The authorities operated some of the trains whose schedules were cancelled from Pabna’s Ishwardi and Natore.