We admire the heroism of Hollywood hero Denzel Washington in Unstoppable in which he plays a veteran engineer who stops a runaway freight train to save hundreds of lives.
Shivaram, a loco driver, emulated Washington in real life when he saved at least 1,800 lives by preventing Yeshwantpur-Kannur Express from plunging into a 200-ft ravine in Shiradi Ghat in Soorikumer-Buntwal sector on January 4.
On Sunday, cooperatives in the district honoured him at a function.
“Some 1,800 people on that train should thank their stars for having a loco driver like Shivaram behind the controls. If we do not recognise his extraordinary commitment to duty, we would be failing as citizens,” said MN Rajendra Kumar, who heads the South Canara District Central Co-operative Bank.
Shivaram described the derailment and the miraculous escape.
The Soorikumer-Buntwal sector is known for its curves, bridges and tunnels. One curve at Kadagarahalli is the nightmare of all loco drivers. The curve comes soon after a tunnel and after the curve, there is a bridge with a ravine that is not less than 200 feet deep.
On that fateful day, the train arrived there at 4.45 am, 120 km from Mangalore. Being the first weekend in the new year, it was packed.
“As we approached Kadagarahalli, I brought down the speed of the train to 30 km and further to 20 km per hour. But as I entered the tunnel, I heard the noise of steel reverberating. The next second, I jammed on the brakes knowing well the terrain,” he said.
But the train moved head a few more metres before it came to a stop. Due to a severed track, both engines were nudged out the track to rest on the hilly side of it.
Senior railway officials have decided to recommend Shivaram’s name for the Railway Safety Award. A panel will meet in March to decide on it.