The fingers are pointed at Tongi Station authorities, but Railways Minister Mazibul Hoque has asked all to wait for the report by an investigation team.
Sub-Inspector SM Raqibul Haque of Joydebpur Railway Junction police camp told bdnews24.com the accident occurred immediately after the Dhaka-bound train left the station around 12:15pm on Sunday.
The engine and seven carriages passed the points safely, but the three remaining could not, as the station master switched the points for a DEMU train coming to the station from Dhaka on its way to Gazipur, Raqibul said.
One of the three coaches was sandwiched between the two others as the train dragged those around 150 feet more onto the other tracks.
How the railway track points work. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Railway points are mechanical installation enabling trains to be guided from one track to another.
The Jamalpur Commuter was yet to gain speed as it had just left the left the station. Officials said the accident would have been more devastating if the train was travelling at full speed.
Four carriages of a train travelling from Jamalpur to Dhaka derailed in Tongi on Sunday. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove
A Bangladesh Railway official said a train compartment is put on two trolleys with four wheels each.“What we’ve understood is that the front trolley of a compartment could pass the points safely,” he said, “But the rear trolley switched to another track when the points were switched. That’s how the accident happened.”
He requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media while the investigation was under way.
Many at the scene blamed Tongi Station Master Halimuzzaman. He could not be reached for comments.
Kamlapur Railway Police Station OC Md Yasin told bdnews24.com he did not see Alimuzzaman when he went to Tongi.
“He is not taking phone calls either. Maybe his fault caused the accident,” he said.
Many of the passengers were travelling on the rooftop of the train’s compartments.
Citing witness statements, OC Yasin said many of those on the rooftop fell or jumped when the rear compartments changed tracks.
“It was mostly these passengers who were killed or injured,” he added.
The Fire Service recovered three bodies from the site. Most of the injured were taken to Shaheed Ahsanullah Master General Hospital, and seven of them were transferred to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where one died.
Tongi Fire Station Officer Md Atiqur Rahman said, “It appears that there was a problem when the commuter train was passing the points. The DEMU train’s driver stopped the train, otherwise, the accident could have beeen devastating.”Minister Mazibul and Bangladesh Railway Director General Md Amzad Hossain visited the site in the afternoon.
Mazibul said initial investigations suggest that a ‘fault in the planning’ caused the accident, but added it was a matter for the investigators to confirm.
Railway Eastern Zone Chief Engineer Md Arifuzzaman is leading the three-strong committee that is to submit a report within three days.
Arifuzzaman said he has not begun work as he has not received related papers.
Train service from Dhaka to Chattogram, Sylhet, Mymensingh and north and south via the Bangabandhu Bridge was halted after the accident.
Isha Khan Express stranded on its way to Kishoreganj passed Tongi around 5:30pm when relief trains cleared the tracks.
The train services started to get normal after around another hour, Bangladesh Railway Additional DG Md Mia Jahan told bdnews24.com.