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There is nothing very strange about the goods train that some days ago ran past 1 railway stations and covered a distance of 94 km in two hous and 25 minutes without a driver. If the American can send their spacecraft into out space without an astronaut, why can’t we run our trains without drivers? Science , after all, is nobody’s monopoly.
Apparently the train was impatient. It could not put up with the matlab of the driver and his assistant in getting down at the malabpur station on the Moradabad line of the northern railway. It waited for awhile and then moved on. En route, the station masters must have shown it the red flag. Speeding at 60kmph, it ignored all signals definetly.
We must not forget that Moradabad, matlabpur and the 13 stations which the train passed by are all in up. There, anything can happen. Trains can move without drivers andtrain with drivers can stay put where they are. I say this from personal experience. It happened years ago.
I was then the press attaché to the chief minister of the state and was to accompany him to nainy tal. We boarded the kathgodam express at the charbagh railway station in lucknow at about ten in the night. He went to his saloon and I took my reserved berth in afirst class coupe. I was allowed to take a peon with me. Mathura singh was the man. He was given a seat in the adjoining attendents compartment and was to get me my tea early next morning at haldwani, a little before kathgodam, from where we were to move on to nainy tal by road.
There was no other passenger in the coupe. Tired, I fell asleep quickly. But I remembered having heard the loud sound of the bugle of the engine and the shrill go-ahead whistle of the guard. I do not know how many stations the train passed by. But when I got up from my sleep in the morning, I found it was halting at one station. I took it to be haldwani and looked for Mathura singh. He was not there. I opened the door of the compartment and moved out. It was the charbagh station in lucknow.
I rushed towards the attendents’ compartment. Mathura singh, its solitary occupant, was snoring heavily. As I roushed him from his slumbers, he looked at me and said philosophically, ‘’ sahib, go to sleep. We have not yet reached Haldwani.’’
Later I learnt that the train was initially late by one hour, then by two hours. The chief minister cancelled his tour but the other passengers kept on sitting in their seats because there were ‘’ about to leave’’ announcement at regular intervals. Till morning the train had moved at all.
Of course the driver was very much there throughout . But apparently he was a strong believer in the ‘’ pehle aap’’ culture of Lucknow and was all along waiting for some other train to start first before he could move his own.



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