Mon, 21 Aug 2000

Misunderstanding caused train collision: PT KAI

JAKARTA (JP): An official from the state railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) rejected speculations on Sunday that the train collision in the Pinangsia-Ancol area on Saturday was caused by human error, preferring to call it a "misunderstanding".

KAI spokesman Zainal Abidin said the electric passenger train, which left Kampung Bandan railway station at around 12:57 p.m. on Friday, suddenly lost its power and stopped at an area between Kampung Bandan and Angke railway station.

"Officials in Kampung Bandan telephoned the Angke station asking whether the electric passenger train from Tangerang had arrived," Zainal told reporters.

He said the officials at Angke station responded that the electric train must have been in a secure position and that the next train, which was the diesel freight train, could leave the Kampung Bandan station.

"So the Kampung Bandan station released the diesel train, which eventually rear-ended the electric train at 40 kilometers per hour," said Zainal.

He added that the track between the Angke and the Kampung Banda stations was curvilinear, making it difficult for the driver of the diesel train to see ahead clearly.

"We're still investigating the panel monitor of the train signals between the two stations, which was supposed to help the officials in locating the electric train," said Zainal, adding that there was no radio communication on the track.

Meanwhile, Pademangan and North Jakarta police officers were investigating the cause of the electricity failure on the passenger train.

"We're also going to ask Sumarno, driver of the passenger train, about the case," said Zainal, adding that the driver of diesel train, Jumiran, was still hospitalized at Atmajaya Hospital in Pluit, North Jakarta.

The train collision, which occurred at 1:10 p.m., killed three people, all identified as staffers at PT KAI, and injured at least 12 others, mostly passengers of the electric train.

"All of the victims' medical expenditures, both the passengers and our employees, will be covered by medical insurance provided by PT KAI," said Zainal.

The collision on Friday was the fifth incident in the greater Jakarta area in the past seven months.

In January, two people died and 10 others were injured when a group of teenagers, who were sitting on the roof of the train, were hit by an approaching bridge in Paledang subdistrict of Central Bogor.

In April, a Jabotabek commuter train heading for Bogor careered into a Pakuan Express train, also Bogor-bound, between Manggarai and Tebet stations in South Jakarta.

Another train collision happened at the capital's outskirts in Karawang in mid April, when two freight trains collided with an Argo Bromo express train from Surabaya, and killed four men and injured eight people.

In May, a Jakarta-Merak diesel train collided head-on with another train at Bumi Serpong Damai housing complex of Serpong, west of Jakarta, killing four passengers and injuring 37 others. (07)