Panic as ‘chain-pulling’ halts Darjeeling Mail

Passenger uses alarm chain to get down at Farakka bridge.

Panic as ‘chain-pulling’ halts Darjeeling Mail

(Representational image: iStock)

Panic gripped passengers of the UP SDAHNJP Festival Special (02343) Darjeeling Mail early this morning after the train came to a screeching halt on the Farakka barrage over the river Ganga near Malda.

Officials later said that a man, who wanted to get down at Farakka had pulled the alarm chain right on the bridge.

It may be mentioned here that the train does not have a scheduled halt at Farakka.


As passengers recalled how the train stopped with a “violent shudder,” the train was detained there for almost an hour before it resumed its journey towards Malda, the next stoppage as per the National Train Enquiry System data.

The train, which had stopped at around 3 am, finally reached Malda Town Station at 4:29 am. Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Malda, Yatindra Kumar, confirmed the incident triggered by the chain-pulling.

“No train usually stops on the any bridge and this train was detained there for almost an hour, which gave rise to many questions within me, while I was anxious about the situation. Thank God, we finally made it to Malda only a quarter of an hour late. The anxiety swelled when I came to hear that somebody had waved a red flag on the tracks to stop the train,” a passenger travelling in the train said.

According to sources, the chain in the B4 compartment was pulled by someone who wanted to get down at the Farakka station.

“Technical staff members of the train started to search for the vacuum released and found it in the B4 coach. At some point of time, it was also thought that the train had to be pushed from behind by another engine from Bhagalpur to take it off the barrage, but the pressure in the vacuum brake was restored for the train to begin the rest of the journey,” a source said.

According to Mr Kumar, passengers can say many things, but it actually was a result of chain-pulling. “Officials needed a short span of time to get things settled and then the train went ahead on its route,” he said. According to a senior Railways official, the vacuum released after chain-pulling works as emergency brakes.

“Chain-pulling also sometimes results in derailment of a train,” the official said. The official praised the drivers and the guard of the Darjeeling Mail as they managed to restore the system within an hour.

“It was an uphill task for them to check each coach individually at night over the barrage. Usually, at least 10 to 15 minutes are required to restore the system after chain-pulling in the day time,” he said, adding, “Such chain-pulling trend has increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To avoid frisking and checks at railway stations, some passengers get down before the arrival of a station. Drivers and guards are facing a risk, while it is problematic to restore the system,” the official added.

According to the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), all train coaches carrying passengers have the alarm chain, which are provided for passengers to communicate with the guard, loco pilot or other train escorting staff during any emergency. The system continues to be a reliable system for passengers during train journey considering the safety and security issues.

However, the chain cannot be pulled unless there is an emergency like a medical emergency, accidents such as fire in the train, and safety purposes like robbery, dacoits, etc.

The pulling of the alarm chain without sufficient and reasonable cause is a crime under Section 141 of the Railways Act, 1989. Under the Railways Act, those found misusing the chain faces imprisonment for a term which may extend up to one year or a fine up to Rs 1,000 or both, according to the NFR.