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Two Kolkata Metro coaches derail, services hit

Kolkata, Oct 20 (IANS) Kolkata Metro rail services in the city hub were disrupted after two coaches of a train derailed near the Central Station here Wednesday, triggering panic among passengers, none of whom were injured, officials said.

‘The accident took place when the Kavi Subhas-bound train developed a mechanical snag and derailed while it was entering the Central Station. The train got stranded in the tunnel. The passengers were evacuated through an emergency exit,’ a Metro Railway spokesperson said.

This is the first ever derailment of the Kolkata Metro, the country’s first such railway system that completed 25 years last year.

‘Following the derailment 100 metres of track were damaged and repair work has been initiated on emergency basis. The tracks are likely to be replaced by night,’ the spokesperson said.

Truncated metro services were resumed in an hour in both south and north ends of the 25-km long route.

‘We are running truncated services between Maidan and Kavi Subhas in the southern part and Girish Park to Dum Dum in the north. The metro services in the city hub are likely to be resumed by night,’ the official said.

Several passengers fell ill due to trauma and were rushed to hospital. Personnel from city police and state emergency and fire services department rushed to the spot and conducted rescue operations.

City police’s Additional Commissioner I.S. Mishra said a couple of passengers were taken ill due to trauma. ‘They were taken to hospital.’

Passengers later agitated at the Central Metro Station alleging that negligence in maintenance of the track by the metro authority had resulted in the accident. They also alleged that metro officials arrived at the spot 40 minutes after the incident.

The train was brought back on track with the help of a battery-run engine in the afternoon. An inquiry committee has been set up to probe the matter, said the spokesperson.

Mishra said: ‘Apart from the railways, city police will also investigate the cause of the accident.’

Kolkata Metro is the first underground railway to be built in India, with the operations commencing in October 1984. The full stretch (Dum Dum to Tollygunge) became operational by February 1995.

Having earned wholesome praise for its cleanliness, punctuality and accident-free travel during the first 25 years of its existence, the Kolkata Metro has faced frequent disruptions after the recent extension of its services in the south due to mechanical problems.

A senior metro official on condition of anonymity said: ‘In the past one year, the metro route has been extended up to Kavi Subhas (New Garia) in the southern fringes of the city. But adequate number of metro rakes were not commissioned to maintain the frequency or to be kept as reserve. And due to scarcity of staff, timely maintenance work is not being carried out.’

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