Fact Check: 2017 water-leak train photo falsely shared as that of Kerala’s first Vande Bharat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s 16th and Kerala’s first Vande Bharat Express on April 25
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off Kerala’s first Vande Bharat Express from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, several social media users shared a photo of a loco pilot holding an umbrella in a train engine, claiming there was rainwater leakage in the engine of the semi-high-speed train before its debut journey on April 26.
In its investigation, the PTI Fact Check Desk found that water leakage from the AC vent in one of its compartments was reported when it was parked at Kannur on April 25, and the railway officials repaired it on April 26. There was no water leakage in the engine of the train. The Desk subsequently found that the photo shared in the social media posts was a screenshot of a video shot in a dead engine in Jharkhand in 2017. The old and unrelated photo was shared on social media with a false claim.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s 16th and Kerala’s first Vande Bharat Express on April 25. There were reports of leakage through the AC vent in one of its compartments during the train’s maiden journey, which the Railways’ technical department staff fixed soon after.
A Twitter user shared a photo of a loco pilot (train driver) sitting inside a train engine and holding an umbrella. The user claimed that he was the driver of the Kasargod-Thiruvananthapuram Vande Bharat Express in Kerala, recently inaugurated by PM Modi, who was trying to save himself from rainwater leakage during the train’s maiden journey.
“MODI's "VANDE BHARAT" is a disaster same, like Modi. On the 1st day of the inauguration, rainwater started leaking from the roof of VB in Kerala. Picture speaks for itself,” read the April 26 Twitter post, which garnered over 66K views, along with more than 1700 likes and 800 retweets so far.
Starting the investigation, the Desk conducted a Google Reverse Image Search on the photo shared in the social media post. The search results led to another Twitter post carrying the same image and claim.
The search results also led to a video tweeted by journalist Sucheta Dalal on August 9, 2017. The video showed the same loco pilot holding an umbrella over his head.
“Railway safety? @sureshpprabhu and @RailMinIndia need to take a serious look without victimising whistleblower,” read the Twitter post.
In the video, purportedly shot by another railway official, the loco pilot can be seen driving the train while saving himself from water leaking from the roof. The person recording the video also complained about the water leakage and urged viewers to share the video.
Taking a cue from the date of the Twitter post shared by Dalal, the Desk conducted a customised Google search with specific keywords and came across a report by The Indian Express, published on August 11, 2017.
The report headline read: “Train driver holds an umbrella to save control panel from a leaky roof, video goes viral.”
Along with Sucheta Dalal’s Twitter post, the report also included a response by the Railway Ministry on the incident. It stated that it was a dead engine, hauled by another machine in the front.
“We r concerned, had enquired. The fact that it was a dead(non-working)engine hauled by another engine in the front can be seen in the video,” read the reply by the Railways Ministry on August 9, 2017.
On further scanning the Google search results, the Desk found an extended version of the same video uploaded on YouTube by a Bengali news outlet named Sangbad Pratidin on Aug 11, 2017.
At the 00:16-minute timestamp, the person recording the video addresses the loco pilot as BK Mandal from Chandrapura, a town in Jharkhand's Bokaro district.
Further watching the video closely, we noticed the station signage of “Bermo” at the 1:17-minute timestamp.
A Google search found that Bermo Railway Station is in the Bokaro district of Jharkhand and falls under the Dhanbad railway division of the East-Central Railway zone.
In the next part of the investigation, the Desk conducted a Google search with the keyword “Kerala Vande Bharat Express leakage reports”. The search results led to an April 26 Times Now report with the headline: “New Kerala Vande Bharat Express 'Leaks' Amid Rain in Kannur; Repaired”.
Subsequently, the Desk concluded that a six-year-old video of leakage in a train engine was falsely linked to the newly inaugurated Vande Bharat Express in Kerala.
Notably, India's first Vande Bharat Express train, initially called Train 18, was flagged off by Prime Minister Modi on February 15, 2019. It runs between Delhi and Varanasi.
Leakage in the Kasargod-Thiruvananthapuram Vande Bharat Express in Kerala, recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, forced the loco pilot to drive the train holding an umbrella in his hand.
The photo was taken inside a dead engine, hauled by another machine, in Jharkhand in August 2017.
Several social media users shared a photo of a loco pilot sitting inside a train engine and holding an umbrella in his hand to save himself from water leaking from the roof of the train. The users claimed he drove Kerala’s first Vande Bharat, recently flagged off by PM Modi, when the train was on its maiden journey. In its investigation, the Desk found that the photo was of an incident from Jharkhand, dating back to August 2017, when another engine was hauling a dead machine. The six-year-old video was shared on social media recent with a false claim.
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