The ceremony to flag off the inaugural Goa-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express at Madgaon station has been cancelled in the wake of the accident involving three trains in Odisha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to flag off the Vande Bharat Express through a video link on Saturday (June 3) morning while Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was to remain present at Madgaon station for the ceremony.
As of now, Vaishnaw is heading for the accident site in Odisha and the ceremony was cancelled, officials said. At least 238 people died and 900 people were injured as a three-way accident involving Bengaluru-Howrah superfast Express, the Coromandel Express and goods train on three separate tracks occurred at Bahanagar in Odisha’s Balasore district.
“The grand flag-off ceremony of Vande Bharat Express train of Goa-Mumbai has been cancelled for now. There is no clarity on whether there will be another flag-off ceremony of this train or it will depart without fanfare from Madgaon and even the schedule of this train will be followed or not,” said a senior official from the railway ministry.
On June 2, the railways carried out last-moment trial runs and inspect the mechanical and electrical workings of this train at Madgaon station. This was the first 8-car Vande Bharat train that was supposed to run six days a week with halts at CSMT, Dadar, Thane, Panvel, Khed, Ratnagiri, Kankavali, Thivim and Madgaon stations in 7 hours and 50 mins.
Speaking to ANI on the incident, Vaishnaw said the accident was unfortunate and the rescue operation began shortly after word of the incident reached his ministry. He had also ordered a high-level probe into the derailment on June 2 night.
Following the tragic train accident, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared a day’s mourning on June 3, saying that no State celebrations would be held on the day. The announcement was made through an official release by the state I&PR Department.
According to Railway spokesperson Amitabh Sharma, the accident took place around 7 pm on June 2.
“Around 7 pm, 10-12 coaches of the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express derailed near Baleswar and fell on the opposite track. After some time, another train from Yeswanthpur to Howrah dashed into those derailed coaches resulting in the derailment of its 3-4 coaches,” Sharma told ANI.