Railway Claims Tribunal takes suo moto action regarding the untoward incident at St.Thomas Mount Railway Station


CHENNAI: A day after four youngsters travelling on the footboard of a suburban train died at St Thomas Mount station, a Press Release issued by the Additional Registrar, Railway Claims Tribunal, Chetpet, Chennai informed that The Railway Claims Tribunal, Chennai Bench, has today taken suo moto action awarding compensation for the family of victims who have died and for injured victims.  It has directed Rs.8 lakhs to be deposited for each of the 4 cases of death and Rs.2 lakhs to be deposited for each of the 5 cases of injured.  

This order is the first of its kind where the compensations are directed to be deposited by the Railways even without any formal application by victims or their families.  The Bench has directed that the Applications can be filled in with details of dependants of the deceased and that the Tribunal will adopt a flexible approach in allowing for amendment in the Applications if details are disclosed later.  

The Tribunal has also ordered release of Rs.2 lakhs in each of the cases of death and Rs.50,000/- each in cases of injuries from the amounts deposited, which will be adjusted against the final outcome of the awards when the full particulars are gathered.

The Tribunal has observed that in the law of strict liability there is hardly scope for denying liability with the status of the victims as passengers and the incident as untoward by a fall from the train are clearly established.

Any party may approach the Tribunal functioning at ‘Fresh Ford’, 50, McNichols Road, Chetpet, Chennai – 600 031 for any further information. 

It is advised that notices have been directed to be issued by e-mail and by conventional method of postal despatch to the Inspector General of Police / Government Railway Police (GRP) and Chief Security Commissioner / Railway Protection Force (RPF) apart from the General Manager of Southern Railway and tasked the Police to furnish copies of all the police records regarding the incident.

Gap between wall & coach is less than an arm’s length

K Satheesh, a juice vendor on platform 2 of St Thomas Mount station, needed no second-guess when he saw commuters rushing towards the opposite platform on Tuesday.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened. That wall has killed others,” said the 42-year-old former railway employee. But Satheesh wasn’t prepared for the scene he saw when the crowd parted. “I saw a leg on the track. I saw a bloodied hand holding the fence as one of the injured tried to heave himself onto the platform,” he said.

Every time a suburban train pulled to a stop on platform 2 — where Tuesday’s train was supposed to stop – passengers craned their necks to see the red post of the fence on platform 3.

Around 11am, a team of officials led by K A Manoharan, commissioner of railway safety, arrived. He was accompanied by people from the engineering department and operations department.

“The accident happened because the train was directed to a different track. We shall conduct a detailed inquiry,” he told reporters. The inquiry, likely to be scheduled on July 30, will evaluate if the fence violated safety parameters and if railways indulged in any other unsafe operations which might have caused the accident.

Another inquiry by Southern Railway is underway for which officials tried to recreate Tuesday’s scene. Some of them heaved bags on their back to see if there was a possibility that they could have got entangled in the fence if they stood on the footboard. They measured the gap between the train and the wall: It was less than an arm’s length. When TOI asked for the exact measurement, one official said it was “less than a metre”, another said it was “around a foot”.

Chennai DRM Naveen Gulati told that the fence was built as per safety parameters. This was even as the station smelt heavily of antiseptic used to wash the blood from the tracks. The victims’ footwear continued to lie strewn around the wall.

Regular commuters said the measurements have come too late. “What is the point after people have died,” said K Sumathi who commutes between Guindy and Alandur. “Officials can’t wash their hands off by saying travelling on footboard is illegal. They knew people were hanging off the doors, why didn’t they inform them when they changed the line?” she said.