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Patalkot Express Fire: How an alert gateman averted a major tragedy

Yashpal Singh, prevented a potential disaster involving the Patalkot Express by detecting smoke in one of its coaches. His quick response and coordination with railway authorities and emergency teams averted a major tragedy.

Patalkot Express Fire: How an alert gateman averted a major tragedy
First Published Oct 26, 2023, 8:06 AM IST

An alert and conscientious gateman, Yashpal Singh, stationed at a railway level crossing near Bhandai station, demonstrated extraordinary vigilance and saved a potential disaster from unfolding on a fateful Wednesday afternoon. The incident involved the Patalkot Express, which could have ended in a major tragedy if not for Singh's swift response. At 3:35 pm, the Patalkot Express was traversing the tracks en route to Bhandai station. In the fourth coach from the engine, a subtle but perilous issue was emerging -- smoke. None of the passengers aboard the train were aware of the impending danger at this point. However, Yashpal Singh, who was on duty as a gateman, detected the telltale signs of smoke emanating from the coach.

Without hesitation, Singh immediately sprang into action, making a crucial phone call to Haridas, the deputy station superintendent of Bhandai station. This initiated a sequence of responses that would help avert a significant disaster.

Haridas, upon receiving Singh's urgent call, rapidly communicated the situation to the control room. In response to the potential crisis, the train controller promptly issued orders to shut down the power supply to all trains moving in both UP (upward) and DOWN (downward) directions. This crucial action was undertaken to ensure that trains halted safely at their respective locations and prevent them from passing through a potentially hazardous area.

By 3:37 pm, just two minutes after Singh's initial observation, the Patalkot Express came to a stop. By then, it had already crossed Bhandai station. Swiftly and efficiently, the necessary emergency response teams were dispatched, including the fire brigade, ambulance services, and the Self Propelled Accident Relief Train (SPART).

However, the fire had already taken hold of the train, affecting the third and fourth coaches from the engine. The important aspect was that, in the midst of this challenging situation, all passengers were safely evacuated from the train, thanks to the coordinated efforts of the response teams.

The Railway Protection Force reported that the fire was fully extinguished by 5:10 pm, with only minor burn injuries sustained by 11 individuals. While the incident was a close call, the quick and efficient response averted a potentially catastrophic disaster.

This incident involved the Patalkot Express, which was on its way from Firozpur Cantonment in Punjab to Seoni in Madhya Pradesh. The fire occurred near Bhandai, which is approximately 10 kilometers from Agra.

Agra Railway Division PRO Prashasti Srivastava noted that the exact cause of the fire was still under investigation. The Railway Division emphasized that safety measures were executed to manage the situation, including detaching the affected coaches from the train.

During this incident, the Medical College Principal of S N Medical College in Agra, Dr. Prashant Gupta, confirmed that nine people had been admitted to hospitals. He stated that five of them were receiving treatment in his hospital, with minor burn injuries, while one patient was undergoing treatment in another nearby hospital. All of the patients had suffered only minor burns and were in stable condition.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) of the Agra Police Commissionerate, Sonam Kumar, reported that upon the fire being reported, five fire tenders and a forensic team were dispatched to the scene.

This incident did impact train operations on the Agra-Dholpur route, as several trains had to be halted at various stations. The Patalkot Express resumed its journey to the destination at 7:30 pm after accommodating the passengers from the affected coaches into other parts of the train.

The incident at Bhandai station serves as a testament to the crucial role that vigilance and coordinated responses play in averting potential disasters in the Indian railway system. 

Gateman Yashpal Singh's prompt action, along with the collaborative efforts of railway authorities and emergency response teams, helped ensure that what could have been a major tragedy was skillfully managed, with no loss of life, and only minor injuries.

In the context of the broader Indian railway system, this incident underscores the importance of continual vigilance and rapid responses to safety concerns. Railway personnel stationed at various points along the railway network, like Yashpal Singh, are instrumental in helping maintain the safety and well-being of passengers and ensuring the smooth operation of the railway system.

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