derailed Duronto Express
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The drivers of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express in New Delhi, India which derailed last month said they remained calm and level-headed enough to act quickly due to years of practicing yoga. Both drivers were hailed as heroes by the railway for their exemplary performance on-duty. Because of their quick actions, no passengers were hurt when the train went off track.

The driver of the derailed Duronto Express was 52-year old Virendra Singh who had been working for the railway since 1988. His assistant loco pilot was 32-year old Abhay Kumar Pal who joined the services in the the national transporter in 2008. According to NDTV, the train derailed on Aug. 29 at around 6:36am between Vasind and Asangaon stations in Maharashtra due to a landslide blocking the tracks.

Although the train was on a curve and rain hampered their visibility, Singh and Pal managed to see the landslide, which residents said washed away some of the tracks, and applied the emergency breaks immediately and alerted the control room via two-way radio with the standard SOS term, “Mileage! Mileage!”

The impact of the sudden brakes caused the engine to jump the rails and turn on its side, with the drivers stuck inside. But Singh shared that his yoga practise helped them stay focused on their duty to the hundreds of passengers who might also be in peril.

“Years of practising yoga helped us stay focused and hold our nerves. In hours of crisis, concentration is the key,” he said.

Singh recounted that in order to escape the engine car, he had Pal climp onto his shoulders to reach the door. Once out of the train, he put detonators on the tracks to alert any incoming trains.

According to railway spokesperson, Anil Saxena, because the drivers were able to alert the control room immediately upon applying the emergency breaks, they were able to switch off of the overhead electricity supply of both the up and down tack lines immediately to avoid even more serious accidents.

Both Singh and Pal suffered minor injuries and were awarded by Railways at the Rail Bhavan for their exemplary dedication to their duty as railwaymen and for their alertness and presence of mind during the crisis in the derailed Duronto Express which saved the lives of hundreds of passengers.

In a report by the Hindustani Times, an accident earlier that same month caused 23 deaths after 13 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district.

The appreciation letter given to them by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani noted their heroic deeds.

“Though the incident resulted in derailment of locomotive and nine coaches in the Igatpuri-Kalyan section, it did not result in injury to any of the passengers, as the speed was considerably reduced due to quick and prompt action by the staff,” it read.

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