Saturday, May 19, 2007

'Old infrastructure' causes train to derail

Thursday, January 25, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

One car of an economy-class diesel train bound to Rangkasbitung, West Java, derailed Tuesday, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded for almost two hours (see photo).

The incident halted the operation of other trains passing through Palmerah and Kebayoran stations in South Jakarta.

The incident took place at about 4 p.m. on Jl. Tentara Pelajar in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta, five minutes after the train departed from Palmerah Station in Central Jakarta.

No casualties were reported in the incident.

"It happened so fast. Suddenly I heard a strange sound, the coach swerved, everybody screamed and the train ground to a halt," said Erni, a passenger from Parung Panjang in Tangerang who was sitting in the fourth carriage of the seven-carriage train.

An hour after the accident, Erni waited for her husband to pick her up. There was still no word from the rail authority, she said.

"(State rail authority) PT KA should do something and not leave the passengers in uncertainty like this," Erni said.

Train driver Sudarto Budi Yusuf said the two wheels of the fourth coach had slid off the rotting rail slats.

"I tried hitting the brakes but the train traveled a further 100 meters before it finally stopped."

Police were quick to arrive at the scene, whereas it took train technicians almost an hour to get there. They separated the first three cars in order to transport some of the passengers to Kebayoran Station. Despite the incident, the passengers did not hesitate to get back in the train.

Others walked the one kilometer back along the railroad to Palmerah Station to take other means of public transportation.

Nia, a university student who lives in Cisalak, Depok, said she did not have the luxury of choice. "I can't afford to be afraid. The train is both cheaper and faster." (02)

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