Alert Loco Pilot averts another major rail mishap on Diva stretch

Tragedy averted on Panvel-Diva Rail track

MUMBAI: A major disaster was averted on Monday night after the train driver of the Pune-Santragachi Express applied emergency brakes after the train hit part of a five-and-a-half foot discarded piece of rail placed diagonally over the track near Kalamboli station on the Diva-Panvel stretch. Though the train dragged the piece of rail for a few metres, the train and its passengers were unharmed.

Railway officials, along with a railway engineer, rushed to the spot after the driver informed the railway control room. “The engineer removed the piece of rail and allowed the train to continue on its journey,” said a railway official. He added that the train halted for about 45 minutes.

The officials have registered a case against unidentified men with the Kalamboli police under section 336 of the IPC, for endangering life or personal safety of others, and under section 150 (1) (a) of The Railways Act, for maliciously wrecking or attempting to wreck a train. A Navi Mumbai police team, along with railway officials, also visited the site of the mishap.

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Police said the train hit the piece of rail at around 7.16 pm, after crossing Kalamboli station. “The train was running late by about six hours. It departed from Panvel station at about 7.04 pm,” said an officer.

According to a railway official, a disaster was averted as the train was running at a slow speed. “If the train was running at top speed, it could have resulted in a major accident,” said the official. A number of south-bound trains, including the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains operate along this stretch.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone II) Rajendra Mane said, “We have registered the case and are investigating further. Some locals from nearby area would have tried to sabotage and derail the running trains either in an attempt to support the terrorists or self-made sleeper cell kind of an operation that will create a panic and loss. The area is quite far from the main road and does not have CCTV cameras, and hence could not immediately establish the root cause; however it is clear cut sabotage attempt only,” he said.

Prakash Nilewad, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) of Zone II said, “We are investigating the matter from all angles. Miscreants must have placed the piece of rail on the track after the oncoming train must have thwarted their bid to steal it”. Nilewad, however, did not rule out the possibility of sabotage. “A section of the union has been protesting against the Railways over salary issues. There is a possibility that they could have done it,” said Nilewad.

“Though the incident took place outside the purview of Navi Mumbai police jurisdiction, a case has been registered at Kalamboli police station,” said Nilewad, adding that other agencies like the GRP, RPF, IB and ATS are also probing different angles.

Ravindra Goyal, Divisional Railway Manager of Central Railway said, “We have already taken a number of steps to prevent such incidents in the future, including increased patrolling.”

Sachin Bhalode, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner said: “It is very difficult to monitor the railway track as the piece of rail could have been placed at any time.”