No pilot, but express ran ahead of Gyaneshwari: Mamata

Kolkata, May 29 (IANS) Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday admitted that no pilot engine was run ahead of the Gyaneshwari Express in West Bengal’s troubled West Midnapore district but another express train had traversed the distance about half-an-hour before it derailed early Friday.

Banerjee said the Ranchi-Hatia Express had passed Khemasuli station at 12.37 a.m. while the Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express crossed the station at 1.12 a.m.

The Gyaneshwari Express went off the track between Sardiha and Khemasuli railway stations, after suspected Maoists removed 1.5 feet of rail track, at 1.30 a.m. Friday, rudely shaking the hundreds of sleeping passengers. Five coaches fell on a parallel track. One hundred and thirty-one passengers died in the accident.

Banerjee said a pilot engine had been run over the track at 10.50 p.m Thursday, about two-and-a-half hours before the Gyaneshwari Express.

The pilot engine was followed by a goods train at 11.37 p.m., the Pune Azad Hind Express at 12.03 a.m. and the Porbandar express at 12.21 a.m.

Banerjee said that it was not possible to run pilot trains before every express train. ‘We don’t have so many pilot trains’.