Railway Minister Piyush Goyal Orders Inquiry Into Kushinagar Train-School Van Accident

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has ordered an inquiry into the Kushinagar train-school van accident and announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh for the kin of the deceased.

The minister also said that the Railways will provide an ex gratia compensation of Rs. 1 lakh for those with serious injuries and Rs. 50,000 for those with simple injuries.

Thirteen children were killed and eight others injured when a train rammed into their school van at an unmanned railway crossing in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar area, around 50 km from Gorakhpur, this morning.

In a statement, Mr Goyal said he was deeply anguished and pained by the loss of lives of young school children at an unmanned level crossing in Kushinagar.

“My thoughts are with families of the deceased and I pray for the early recovery of the injured. Ministry of Railways will provide an ex gratia amount of Rs. 2 lakh for kin of the deceased, Rs. 1 lakh for those with serious injuries and Rs. 50,000 for those with simple injuries,” the railway minister said in the statement.

He said that he has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident, adding “We stand committed to take all possible steps to avoid such accidents in future”.

Talking to reporters here, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said there was a rail mitra (rail volunteer) at the spot, who tried to stop the school van, but the driver did not stop, adding that this is the first accident at an unmanned level crossing this year.

Mr Lohani said there are currently 3,479 unmanned level crossings on broad gauge of Indian Railways.

The railway board chairman also said that a total of 109 accidents have taken place at unmanned level crossings in the country since 2014-15 and asserted that railways aim to eliminate unmanned level crossings by March 2020.

In the accident, the children, students of Divine Public School, were killed on the spot when the Thawe-Kapatanganj passenger train crashed into the van at the unmanned crossing gate at Behpurva, said Railways spokesman Ved Prakash.

The train was on way to Gorakhpur from Siwan. There were at least 25 passengers, including children who were below the age of 10, in the van, the official said.