Suspected brake failure could have led to the rail mishap in Rae Bareli, according to sources and eyewitnesses, although Railways have maintained that prima-facie cause of the derailment was overshooting of the signal by the loco driver.
Sources said the driver apparently applied the brake but the train did not stop pointing suspicion towards the failure of the braking system.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered an inquiry into the incident by the Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS) of Northern Zone.
“The real cause of the mishap would be known only after the inquiry, but it seems the driver apparently applied the brake but could not stop the train,” sources said.
They said there are possibilities of the brake-pipe between the locomotive of the ill-fated Dehradun-Varanasi Express and the coaches were apparently disconnected causing brake failure of the train.
The train was to stop at Bachhravan station at around 9.10 AM today but did not stop and entered the sand hump causing derailment of its engine and four coaches which resulted in death of several passengers and injuries to many.
Sources added the inquiry by the CRS will ascertain the reason of the derailment, but it seems, the brake-pipe between the locomotive and the coaches were apparently disconnected causing brake failure.
An eyewitness, who was travelling in the first bogey and was fortunate enough to jump at Bachrawan railway station where the train did not halt before the mishap, said that he saw the driver and the guard frantically signalling from the doors.
35-year-old Shiv Mohan, who was in the first bogey which suffered the most damage, said, “It seemed as if the brakes had failed and both the driver and the guard were talking on the walkie-talkie and asking the station master to give the main line.”
After the train was put on the ‘thokar’ line and the engine hit the pipes erected to stop the train, two bogies fell on top of one other, he said.
“They (driver and the guard) were also frantically signalling from the doors,” he said.
The number of accidents has increased from 112 last year to 130 this year, according to Railway Ministry data.