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Suresh Prabhu Offers to Quit Over Train Derailments, PM Asks Him to Wait

File photo of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

File photo of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu was facing fire after the Utkal Express derailment in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday killed 23 passengers and injured over 60.

New Delhi: Taking responsibility for the recent spate of train derailments, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had offered to step down, but was asked to wait by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prabhu was facing fire after the Utkal Express derailment in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday killed 23 passengers and injured over 60. Fourteen coaches of the train, which runs on the Puri-Haridwar-Kalinga route, had derailed at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar.

Earlier in the day, Railway Board Chairman AK Mittal had tendered his resignation, which Prabhu was yet to accept.

Prabhu had directed the Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility after the Muzaffarnagar incident. He also said that he would not allow laxity in operations by the Railway Board.

Member Engineering Railway Board Ashok Mittal was on Sunday sent on leave after the prima facie evidence showed negligence on the part of maintenance staff as the reason why the Utkal Express derailed.

Divisional Railway Manager Delhi and General Manager Northern Railways, who had himself suspended four railway officials, have also been sent on leave. The Chief Track Engineer, Northern Railway zone, has also been transferred, hours after Suresh Prabhu asked officials to make those responsible for the tragedy accountable by the end of this day.

RK Verma, Senior Divisional engineer, Delhi division, Rohit Kumar, Assistant engineer, Meerut, Delhi division, Inder Jeet Singh, Senior section engineer, Muzzafarnagar, and Pradeep Kumar, Junior engineer, Khatauli, were the four officials, suspended by the General Manager Northern Railways.

On Wednesday, yet another train derailment brought in more flak for the Railways. At least 70 people were injured when nine coaches of the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh. The train, travelling from Azamgarh to Delhi, collided with a dumper around 3am between Pata and Achalda railway stations, a North Central Railway spokesperson said.