Metro motorman suspended following alleged signal violation

KOLKATA: The motorman of an AC Metro train was suspended on Sunday following an alleged signal violation at the up line in Dum Dum on Saturday which could have led to a collision between two Up trains.

Metro officials said Alok Sengupta, the motorman of AC rake KD-77, was suspended based on a complaint of overlooking the home signal.

At 1.24pm on Saturday, passengers of rake KD-75 got off at Dum Dum Metro station on the up line following which the train started approaching the Y-siding. It was then that another AC rake – KD-77 – with commuters on board allegedly violated the home signal and came very close to the previous. The motorman applied the emergency brakes and the train came to a halt, barely 160 meters away from KD-75.

Had KD-77 not come to a stop, it would have collided with the train in front, leading to a major disaster. Only a year ago, a motorman running an empty rake had overlooked a signal near Netaji Bhawan and served an eight-month suspension.

A senior Metro official said that a probe has already been ordered into the fiasco. “The investigators will see whether it was a case of signal failure or a case of overlooking the signal. Whatever be the reason, overlooking the signal in the railway system is a grave offence,” he added.

Unlike the surface level trains, the signalling system is one of the most crucial aspects of the Metro. When a Metro rake passes through a tunnel, the only thing visible is the signal. Before entering a station, the motorman has to keep an eye on the home signal. The signal will be red if there is another train on the platform.

On Saturday, since KD-75 hadn’t crossed the Y-siding, the signal at the Dum Dum Metro station should have been red. So there is a possibility that Sengupta overlooked the signal and went ahead with the train.

A Metro official, however, said the preliminary probe revealed that KD-77 was allowed to move forward by a manual signal. “So before reaching a conclusion, we have to check if there was any signal error,” the official added.

Owing to a failure in the automatic signal system, the authorities also switched to the manual signal system for some time.

Immediately after the incident, a blamegame began. While the motormen who have a strong union started claiming that the home signal was green, the signal division employees denied it.