Jhargram: Did the railways run a pilot train before the ill-fated Howrah-Kurla Gyaneshwari Express traversed the Maoist hotbed around Jhargram in West Bengal`s West Midnapore district? Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee says yes, but sources in the railways indicate otherwise.
Rushing to the scene of the tragedy, about 155 km from Kolkata, Banerjee told mediapersons that a pilot train had indeed been run half-an-hour ahead of the ill-fated express train.
However, railway sources said a pilot engine run on the up tracks in the Maoist-infested area was followed by a freight train and three to four express trains preceding the Gyaneshwari Express.
"It is not possible to run pilot engines before every express train. So, in these areas we have decided to bundle trains which will run one after the other," the railways source told IANS.
"The time difference between the Gyaneshwari Express and the train immediately preceding it was about half-hour. If the Maoists indeed have done the mischief, they have done it within that half an hour to 35 minutes," the source told IANS.
The Maoists have been very active in the Jhargram belt and last October stopped a Bhubaneshwar Rajdhani Express at Banstala Halt Station.
The driver and his assistant of a goods train were injured when the Maoists carried out an explosion damaging both the up and down railway tracks between Jhargram and Gidhni stations May 19.