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Alert Motorman Applies Train Brakes in Time, Averts Major Tragedy in Mumbai Bridge Collapse

The motorman (driver), Chandrashekhar B Sawant, who was steering the Churchgate-bound 7.06 am suburban train from Borivli, saw a portion of the road over bridge falling as he was nearing the Andheri station.

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Updated:July 3, 2018, 8:53 PM IST
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Alert Motorman Applies Train Brakes in Time, Averts Major Tragedy in Mumbai Bridge Collapse
Rescue workers clear debris of Gokhale foot overbridge that collapsed at Andheri station following heavy rain. (PTI Photo/Shirish Shete)
Mumbai: Even as the overbridge at the Andheri railway station in Mumbai was crashing down on the railway tracks, an alert train pilot averted a major tragedy by applying the emergency brakes in the nick of time and stopping his train just a few metres away from the collapse site on Tuesday.

Chandrashekhar B Sawant, who was steering the Churchgate-bound 7.06 am suburban train from Borivli, saw a portion of the road over bridge falling as he was nearing the Andheri station when he applied the brakes.

The road overbridge, built in 1971, collapsed near the eastern side of the Andheri railway station and part of it fell on rail tracks.

"I immediately applied emergency brakes and the train stopped a few metres from the spot where the bridge collapsed," Sawant told reporters.

"The collapse was accompanied by a big thud sound of the falling debris," he said.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has "applauded the quick thinking and timely action of WR motorman Sawant at the time of the Andheri bridge mishap and announced a Rs 5 lakh reward for him", an official said.

Heavy rains heavily disrupted train services in Mumbai on Tuesday and led to the collapse of the overbridge putting the spotlight back on the dilapidated infrastructure of the metropolis.

The Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said five people were injured in the accident, including two seriously.

A part of the 47-year-old Gokhale overbridge came down at 7.30 a.m., before the commuter rush hour had started, which was the likely reason the casualty figure remained low. Normally, thousands of commuters use the bridge, which connects Andheri East and Andheri West stations.

The falling bridge entangled with overhead wires which fell on the tracks below, halting local train services on the Western line, officials said, causing immense inconvenience to Mumbaikars for whom local trains are a lifeline. Some long distance trains were also cancelled or rescheduled.

Only nine months ago in September, a foot overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban railway stations had collapsed, leading to a stampede in which 22 people were killed and several injured.

"Incessant rains apparently caused cracks in the (bridge), resulting in its collapse. Thankfully, no train was passing on the track under the bridge at that time," said a civic official.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal visited the accident site and ordered an inquiry by the Commissioner of Rail Safety whose report would have to be submitted within 15 days.

He said around 700 employees of the railways, helped by some experts from Delhi and Lucknow, were working on the restoration work and the train services will be resumed completely by Tuesday night.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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