Two coaches of Amrapali Express gutted in Railway Yard in Bihar

KATIHAR: A fire broke out in the railway yard here yesterday evening in which two coaches of a stationary train were gutted and as many damaged, a railway official said.

A general and a sleeper coach of the Amrapali Express, which was scheduled to leave late tonight for Amritsar, was destroyed while two other coaches were damaged by the blaze.

No casualties have been reported yet, officials said, adding that the reason behind the fire is yet to be ascertained.

“The fire has been brought under control. Fire brigade personnel and engineers are on the spot. An inquiry will be ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire,” Additional Divisional Railway Manager, Katihar, D L Meena, said.

The fire was noticed at around 6 pm by railway personnel engaged in the yard who informed the RPF and the fire brigade was called subsequently.

By the time flames were extinguished, a general and a sleeper coach were gutted and two other coaches were badly damaged.

Railway officials said the train would run as scheduled with fresh coaches attached to it in place of the affected ones.

Amrapali Express (15707/15708) runs between Katihar and Amritsar. It operates as train number 15707 in Up direction from Katihar Junction of North east Frontier railway to Amritsar of Northern Railway and as train number 15708 in the reverse direction.

Amrapali Express covers the distance of 1799-km between Katihar and Amritsar in 37 hours. As the average speed of the train is below 55 km/hr, its fare does not include a Superfast surcharge.

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Parliamentary Panel summons top Railway Officials after recent Accidents

New Delhi:  A parliamentary panel has summoned top railway officials over the recent spate of rail derailments and the Elphinstone Road Bridge stampede in Mumbai.

The officials are scheduled to appear before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways headed by Trinamool MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay on November 9.

Representatives of the Railway Ministry (Railway Board) will brief the panel on safety measures in railway operations and maintenance of bridges, a Lok Sabha notice said.

A member of the parliamentary panel said railways is the lifeline of the country and a poor man’s transport. He said safety is of paramount importance and that is why the panel has called the meeting.

The panel is expected to question the officials about the recent incidents of derailment and the Mumbai bridge tragedy in which 23 people lost their lives, the notice said.

A recent circular by the Railway Board had raised concerns over the maintenance of railway bridges, stating that out of 275 such bridges, only 23 had speed restrictions on them.

Speed restriction for trains is needed when the tracks are in need of repair. Without such a restriction, there can be safety issues for trains operating on regular speed.

The board had also ordered a review of all rail bridges in the country that need repair.

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College Students from Bangalore offer IoT-based solution for unmanned Railway crossings

The team from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, aims to reduce railway accidents through IOT

BENGALURU: At a time when train accidents are becoming frequent, six students from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, have suggested a cost-effective way to the Indian Railways to eliminate accidents at unmanned level crossings.

The project – an Internet of Things-based (IoT) multi-tier system – is currently under the railway ministry’s consideration. The system is based on three types of sensors and was presented at the Smart India Hackathon 2017, organized by the central government in April.

“We have given an alternative idea of eliminating unmanned railway crossings across India. It’s an automated IoT-based multi-tier system based on sensors. This will buttress the security system of the railways and remove human errors,” explained Ishaan Abhinav, a third-year student and member of team Gamma, which came up with the model.

The model operates on three sensors – radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor, pressure sensor and optical sensor – to be placed at different points from the crossing. The pressure and optical sensors are triggered by the weight and appearance of trains, respectively.

As soon as the train passes through the RFID sensor located 2.7km from the crossing, an alarm and light system will be activated to signal road users to stop. As the train approaches the pressure sensor – to be placed at 1.75km from the crossing – it’s time for the gates to close. By the time the train reaches the optical sensor, placed 1.5km from the crossing, the gates will shut automatically.

“The project doesn’t end here. It is often seen that when barricades come down, many walker try to cross the track by slipping underneath. To prevent this, we have added barbed wires to the barricades,” said Malvika Vinay, another team member and a third-year engineering student.

The project was readied in two-and-a-half weeks by the team whose members include Madhusoodhanan K M, Adhitya Niranjan, Misha P and Rainy Jain. The students from computer science and mechanical engineering streams were mentored by Sudhir Routray, Sharmila K P and Rahul Nyamangoudar.

“We went till the final round of the hackathon. The PM addressed us and spoke about the problems faced by the Railways,” said Madhusoodanan.

Said professor Sharmila, head of the department for telecommunication: “It’s a low-budget solution for railways as these sensors don’t require much power or battery to run till about four to five years. We are now making changes in the project as suggested by the Ministry of Railways.”

Indian Railways to eliminate unmanned level crossings within a year

In a bid to reduce the accidents, the Railway Ministry on Sunday has decided to take measures to eliminate all unmanned level crossings in the country within a year.

A decision was taken in this regard after Union Minister of Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal reviewed the performance of Southern Railway and ICF at a meeting held here.

During the meeting, the Minister also asked his department authorities to ensure that Indian Railways provide the best service with speed and safety.

Southern railway sources here said that the earlier target was to eliminate unmanned level crossings in three years, but by using the transformative mantra of “Speed, Skill and Scale”, this target has to be completed within one year now.

The Railway Minister said steps were taken to conserve electricity through large scale implementation of LED lighting facilities at railway stations, railway premises including railway quarters under UJALA programme of the union government.

Similarly, he said railway officials should take measures in water conservation, plastic disposal as a part of Green India mission of government.

Stop Train Mishap, get out-of-turn Promotion: Piyush Goyal to Railway Staff

Terming the recent train accidents as ‘unfortunate’, Goyal called upon the railway staff to work diligently

BANGALORE: In the wake of a series of recent train accidents in the country, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has suggested out-of-turn promotions for those railway employees who take timely action to avert mishaps.

Speaking at a review meeting with senior officials of the South Western Railway, he asserted that such schemes will boost the morale of the staff.

Terming the recent train accidents as “unfortunate”, Goyal called upon the railway staff to work diligently for ensuring complete safety in running trains, a release by the South Western Railway said.

“The minister suggested various schemes such as granting out-of-turn promotion for the staff who take timely action to avert accidents. He said such schemes will go a longway in boosting the morale of the staff,” it said.

The Railway Minister emphasised that safety shall be given top most priority and track renewal works be taken up expeditiously.

He also asked the Railways to develop an action plan for eliminating unmanned level crossing gates in a year’s time, instead of 2019-20 as planned earlier.

Indian Railways will switch to LHB Coaches, reduce casualty rate by 25 times

CHENNAI: If a fast-moving train with Integral Coach Factory (ICF)-designed coaches derails, the deaths and injuries will be 25 times higher as compared to a train composed of LHB coaches.

This statistic, brought out in a recent audit report of Indian Railways, is a key reason why the railways will stop manufacturing the ICF coaches and switch over completely to the German-technology Linke Hoffman Busche (LHB) coaches.

Extracts from the report show that for 2014, 2016, 17 trains with ICF coaches which met with accidents, resulted in 431 deaths and injury of 866 people. In comparison, the three derailments that LHB coaches met with, killed only four people and injured eight. “This proves the superiority of LHB coaches over ICF coaches’. The latter is not safe for operational speeds of 100120 kmph with trailing loads of 2024 coaches,” the report noted.

On August 19, 13 ICF coaches of the Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh, killing more than 20.On August 29, nine LHB coaches of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed, but there were no casualties.

“This is attributed to the anti-climbing/anti-piercing  features of LHB coaches due to vertically interlocked centre buffer couplers that prevent the coaches from capsizing in a derailment. None of the LHB coaches of Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express turned turtle despite a derailment in 2014,” the audit report noted.

ICF, Chennai, will completely switch-over to LHB coaches in a few weeks time, an official said.

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India’s Train Accidents are not even accidents, but High-probability Events caused by Systemic Problems!

The Dear Lives India lost in Rail Mishaps is a matter of Serious Concern – Can new Rail Minister has guts to shake the System to bring about a change?

India has had four train derailment accidents in the last few weeks. One of the accidents, in Uttar Pradesh on August 19, killed 23 people and injured more than 150 people. This series of serious accidents led to the resignations of Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu and Chairman of the Railway Board A.K. Mittal.

Since last many decades railway up-gradation was not keeping pace with time technology. Unions in railways rule the roots, efficiency and safety are the last things on their mind. Accountability is passing the buck and generally the blame is put on human error. However, we are supposed to follow rules. Shoddy maintenance of railways across India is the main cause for major accidents – particularly on the Northern India. Railways are also looting passengers by imposing safety surcharge. People started thinking that all the false promises were given from behind the veils of power mongers. God knows how the tough rakes are maintained or not but prone to more major mishaps.

India was one of the first countries in the world to build a large railway system. Its 21-mile railway from Mumbai to Tana was built in 1853, under British colonial rule. At the time of independence in 1947, the Indian railway network covered more than 55,000 kilometers, behind only the US, the former Soviet Union and Canada. The surge in India’s population and its rapid urbanization meant that the trains, which were relatively affordable, became the most important means of transport for most people. But the explosion in passenger numbers severely burdened the aging railway system, which had been constructed to a fairly low standard. As a result, accidents have not been uncommon.

As in the past the blame on the derailment near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh is caused by negligence and the blame is passed on human error. The locals in UP expose lapses and it is very clear that accident could have been averted. The victims narrate their ordeal and that is pathetic.  Just by giving compensation we will not be able to make up the human loss. Eyewitnesses recount the horror and how the victims were struggling for help. Medical facilities reached the accident spot late and that shows the apathy and the lethargic approach of the officials.

By suspending or by transferring officials is not the solution.  More and more care should be taken on passenger safety and the railway budget should allot more funds to reduce the accident cases to a negligible level. The approach after the tragedy by the government does not augur well and the railway passengers are feeling lack of relief during such major accidents. It should not be out of context to mention here that the system is controlled by the Railway Ministry through the state-owned Indian Railways having more than 1.5 million employees and is India’s largest state-owned enterprise too. However, it is also probably the most inefficient Company in the world, in the state sector. Coupled with the government’s policy of low-cost train transport and high salaries for railway employees, the Indian Railways simply cannot accumulate enough funds to update its railway system.

The train accident near Khatauli saw tragedy struck killing of more than 23 people and injuring over 100 and that jolts the nation. It could have been averted if the track fractures had been taken care in time and a close watch carried on the train tracks. The derailment created fear among the passengers. Strange are the ways of train accidents in the Indian history. In the past we heard about bomb blasts, head on collision, wrong signal, smoke inside coaches and snatching of fish plates caused trouble and discomfiture to the travellers and caused major causalities at late night. A panel will be set up for a probe. But the dear lives were lost in a major mishap. Time tested methods are to be carried out regularly on all rail routes periodically.

The past governments have not given enough attention to vital infrastructure like railways. At the same time, India’s domestic manufacturing industry has fallen behind, unable to provide technical and equipment support for railway upgrading.

It could be said that India’s train accidents are not even accidents, but high-probability events caused by systemic problems. For decades, the situation has not improved. According to the statistics, in 2016 more than 500 train accidents took place in India. This problem cannot be solved by the resignation of the minister of railways. The minister himself to be serious on various corrupt practices in Railway system right from the Railway Board level to the Zonal and Divisional levels in the Engineering, Safety, Operations, Electrical, Signal & Telecom wings. Most of the Indian Railway officials are corrupt and past Governments have not taken sufficient steps to correct the system. Atleast Suresh Prabhu, former Railway Minister was too serious on such malpractices, as he has taken aggressive stand on corruption under the Prime Minister Mr.Modi’s regime.

The slow speed and frequent accidents on India’s railways have become symbolic of the backwardness of the country’s infrastructure. In the international media coverage of India, the train-related problems also give a negative impression of the country to the international community. Not only do foreign tourists feel insecure about traveling there, but foreign investors also have little confidence in India’s infrastructure, which has hindered the development of India’s economy and modernization.

Over the past decade, the government has recognized the importance of railways for economic development and it has proposed a series of railway construction plans. After Modi came to power, he expressed ambitions not only to reconstruct the original railways but also to form a “diamond quadrilateral” of railways connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta, the Delhi-Chennai high-speed railway corridor and the Mysore-Bangalore Chennai high-speed rail lines. At the same time, India also become more welcoming to the participation of foreign funds and enterprises. In September 2014, when Chinese leaders visited India, the two countries signed an agreement to invite Chinese enterprises to participate in a project to upgrade the railway from Bangalore to Mysore. India also announced in 2015 that it would invest more than $13 billion over five years to modernize and expand the railway system. In February 2016, India and Japan signed a $12 billion agreement to build a high-speed railway from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.

The Modi government’s railway construction plan is exciting, but will not be easy to achieve. First, the huge funds required have not yet been mobilized, partly because private capital hasn’t been properly involved, but also because there are still concerns regarding foreign investment. Second, long-term constraints in the institutional infrastructure in India have not been resolved, such as problems related to land expropriation.

Even if Modi can create a miracle and successfully complete his plan, it only involves the enhancement of the main Indian Railways, which account for just a small part of the entire Indian railway system. A comprehensive upgrade of the whole system will need a huge amount of money, and will take several decades to achieve. Therefore, news about Indian train accidents is not likely to fade away.

Piyush Goyal bans production of conventional ICF Coaches that topples over other in case of derailments

Railway Minister took serious note of the Utkal Express derailment that highlighted severe neglect on the part of the local authorities — both maintenance (Engineering) and station (Operating) staff — in reacting to a broken track.

On Thursday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has not only ordered the elimination of all unmanned level crossings within a year, advancing the deadline by two years. He told officials that the focus should be on replacing tracks prone to accidents immediately instead of laying new lines and asked the Board to expedite the procurement of new tracks on a large scale.

Importantly, he also directed the Board to stop the production of conventional Integral Coach Factory coaches that topple over one another in case of derailments.

The accidents last month led to a top-level rejig in the Railway Ministry, with the resignation of Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mital and Mr. Prabhu owning moral responsibility for the derailments. For the first time in decades, a Railway Board member was sent on leave, having been held responsible for the Utkal Express accident. Former Air India chief Ashwani Lohani has taken charge as the Railway Board Chairman. Mr. Goyal has made it clear that safety will be his top priority.

A string of derailments in the last couple of weeks has put the spotlight on rail safety. On August 19, thirteen coaches of the Haridwar-bound Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express went off the tracks near the Khatauli railway station in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, claiming at least 21 lives and injuring more than 90. This was followed by the derailment of 10 coaches of the Kaifiyat Express in Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh four days later, after it collided with a dumper, injuring around 100 passengers. This was followed by the collision of a train with a lorry at an unmanned level crossing in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram region on the same day.

The saga didn’t end there with three trains — two carrying passengers and one goods — jumping off the tracks in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and Maharashtra within a span of nine hours on Thursday. Two more accidents were averted – one in Uttar Pradesh and the other in Mumbai when rail fracture was detected by the patrolling staff on Thursday.

Although the total serious train accidents declined from 135 in 2014-15 to 104 in 2016-17, the derailments went up from 63 to 78 during the same period. The share of derailments in total accidents has soared from 46.7% in 2014-15 to 75% in 2016-17. Till August 20 this year, 85% of the total rail accidents happened due to derailments, raising the alarm among authorities.

In a safety review meeting chaired by the new Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday, two major causes of accidents were identified: unmanned level crossings and derailments due to track defects. According to official figures, track defects had the highest share of around 44% in train derailments between 2012-13 and 2016-17. Derailments can also happen because of the failure of wheel and other train components. In 2016-17, 61.5% of the accidents happened because of the failure of railway staff against 37.7% in 2012-13. The Utkal Express derailment highlighted severe neglect on the part of the local authorities — both maintenance and station teams — in reacting to a broken track. While the track defect was detected early in the day, the maintenance team temporarily joined the tracks while waiting for a nod from the station authorities to get block time to fix it. Soon, the Utkal Express arrived at a speed of 105 km per hour, ran over the track and derailed.

In 2016-17, the total number of casualties in train accidents was at a two-year high of 238, mainly due to the derailment of the Indore-Rajendranagar Express near Kanpur, one of the worst accidents in over a decade, killing 152 passengers and injuring 183. In 2015-16, 122 people died in rail accidents compared with 292 in 2014-15 and 152 in 2013-14. The former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had announced a ‘Mission Zero Accident’ while presenting his last budget of 2016-17 before the rail and general budgets were merged. With a slew of accidents still taking place, it seems to be a distant goal.

Finding a Solution to the Increasing Number of Rail Disasters in India

India’s overstretched railway network is in urgent need of rehabilitation if it is to keep up with its passenger volume and improve safety standards.

After three derailments in less than a month, the standard of routine track maintenance on India’s rail network is under the spotlight once again. Of the three derailments, one occurred after heavy rains and landslides washed away the railway track in Thane district in Maharashtra. In this mishap, the Indian Railways itself was a victim of natural disaster.

The derailment of the Kaifiat Express at Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, happened when a dumper truck trespassed onto the track at midnight and hit the locomotive of a passenger train. Though everyone feels concerned about the 70 passengers who were injured, it must be admitted that the railways too deserve some sympathy for the random behaviour of irresponsible trespassers.

However, the derailment of the Kalinga Utkal Express at Khatauli appears to raise multiple alarms. The fears are about track renewal standards and track maintenance practices followed by the Railways, and the stubborn refusal to accept the need for upgrading track standards despite heavy increase in freight and passenger throughput since the last national-scale track rehabilitation initiated by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2002-03.

In a statement to the media, a railways spokesperson said that the prima facie cause of the Utkal Express derailment appeared to be a partially finished emergency track. The train crew were not aware of the track repair work, possibly because no traffic block (possession of track to rectify defects or faults noticed on the track) was granted for the repair work on that day. Since there was no speed restriction imposed on the track stretch where defects were being attended to, the train was running at normal permitted speeds and got derailed.

What ails Indian railways?

Several questions suddenly arose due to the unusual nature of the cause of the derailment. Doubts were expressed about the abilities of the railways’ track possession management (TPM) when attending to track defects. Is there a disconnect between operational performance achievement targets and track maintenance protocols as well as rolling stock safety and performance standards? Has the engineering member on the railway board abdicated his control over TPM for emergency repairs on track? Or is it being unauthorisedly controlled by some other board member who is not being held accountable? Does the same anarchy percolate down to zonal and divisional levels where railway managers are encouraged to emulate the work culture of the commercially-greedy train operating companies of Britain and adopt a bellicose attitude towards track possession for safety repairs? Are the traffic blocks being routinely refused by the divisional railway managers (DRMs) and general managers (GMs) and forcing track engineers to delay or defer attending track defects?

A ‘zero tolerance on punctuality loss’ is needed to assure passenger satisfaction and also to keep up the brand image of the railways. But should this be achieved by denying traffic blocks for urgently demanded track work and endangering the lives of passengers? DRMs and GMs are already under pressure to achieve their freight and passenger traffic targets and earnings management. One can understand their anxiety about not having enough social and bulk goods to carry. Even though the Indian economy is poised to grow at 7-7.5%, it, as of now, does not have much domestic coal or minerals to offer to the railways. However, the railways’ commercial fortunes are tied to these bulk goods. In the passenger business too, if we look at the passenger kilometres in the last five years, what is available for sale and what is actually sold have not seen much growth.

In a business environment driven by heightened commercial expectations and railways intercity transport brand image, the DRMs are tempted to often take risks by not reporting such defects and unsafe track conditions. The restrictions on gaining access to tracks for emergency repair works, due to denial of maintenance blocks, can drive track engineers to risky adventures. And there is reason to suspect that it was one such adventure that was enacted at Khatauli.

The harsh punishments that the railway administration might invoke to deal with human failures associated with rail disasters, could help in controlling mishaps to some extent. More urgently, the Indian raliways needs to worry about systemic issues.

The frequency of mishaps tied to broken rails and other track defects is an unmistakable symptom of a highly stressed-out track network that needs more than just track renewals. It actually demands need-based upgradations of track standards too.

India inherited rail tracks laid by the colonial government, mostly for military logistics purposes and as such, the track standards had generally been kept to a bare minimum. The truth is, that as much as 50,000 km of the present 66,000-km rail route was built by the colonial government as per standards meant for colonial natives. Not much has changed except converting the metre gauge into broad gauge, with hardly any track standard upgrades suitable to carry higher axle load freight vehicles and faster trains.

In India, Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the modernisation of trains. Subsequent prime ministers did not dwell much on the rail industry development or technology acquisition or modernisation till Vajpayee decided to make substantial investments in the renewal and rehabilitation of India’s fatigued track system and aged bridge structures on a national scale. The massive renewal and rehabilitation, planned and successfully implemented in 30 months between 2002-2005, is now more than a decade old.

With a substantial increase in freight and passenger throughput, the track network urgently needs a massive dose of rehabilitation layered with need-based upgradation of track standards, if we want to prevent any further deterioration in track conditions. There was some talk about the rehabilitation of tracks for some time but the kind of high impact improvements visible in 2003-05 and beyond are missing now. Let there be no mistake, all that can be done on the existing permanent way, through rehabilitation with existing track standards, can only improve safety. It may also help in achieving marginally higher track speeds. However, such moderate investments in improving track standards can only result in incremental improvements, which will have limitations. In other words, it might not help much in running faster passenger trains with speed potential above 160 kmph and 25 tonne axle loads freight trains together on the same track system. Mixing 25 T-axle-load freight trains with passenger trains above 160 kmph can be open invitation to disasters.

The consequences of the tragic Khatauli accident have not been good for the country in general and the railways in particular. Non-compliance with even routine maintenance processes are causing accidents, particularly due to human failure, at almost all levels. Somewhere in the midst of this are two serious issues.

Are the methods of excessive monitoring of punctuality drives, clubbed with cleanliness drives, passenger amenities drives and every possible social media drive, spreading the system’s physical resources too thin? The second is the manner in which safety is monitored. Emphasis seems to be on spruced up repair statistics. Defects in track are identified. But is the pressure to report expeditious repairs leading to misreporting? Field inspections and accountability at appropriate levels are the only way out. If track repairs need time and resources, it must be stated upfront. The same must apply to rolling stock. I had earlier commented on the tendency of railway coaches to jack-knife in such incidents. The same has been repeated. Little appears to have been done on fundamental changes in coupling arrangements and coach designs.

Bold initiatives to enable passengers to directly complain or take grievances, 24×7, were a roaring success. However, has this not pushed the understaffed establishment a bit too much, to instantaneously respond to hundreds of passenger complaints daily and consequently distracted the attention of officials from their safety-related core duties? Has the railway board made ministers aware that the Indian Railways is not adequately staffed to man safety category jobs? Many senior railwaymen do misguide their railway ministers by loose talk that Railways are an overstaffed organisation. Loose talk that rests on complete absence of meaningful analytics of the performance statistics.

The Indian railways transports 1,100 million tonnes of freight – which is huge. In addition to freight, it handles 8,300 million passengers annually, which is the largest in the world. It takes a lot of staff to manage the world’s largest rail passenger volumes. There is one railway employee per 17 passengers. In the Western Railway, which is the busiest zone, the number of passengers handled by an average employee per day is as high as 40.

Lessons from the world

Let us look at any country in the world. Only India dares mix the world’s fourth largest freight volume with the world’s largest passenger volume on the same network by over-stretching its capacity utilisation. The more we allow this misadventure to linger, the more we are exposing customers to avoidable risks. The government has done it’s best to provide resources for completing the two legs of dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) for accelerated completion. The DFC project, which was launched in 2006, is now overdue for commissioning. DFCs will facilitate separation of rail freight business from passenger business and will provide a lot relief to the railway network .

Amtrak, the US’s passenger railway corporation, is like the Indian railways. It is directly managed under US government’s federal railway authority. Amtrak has 20,000 employees, with each handling 4.2 passengers per day. After outsourcing all maintenance work to private contracting companies, the privatised UK rail train operating companies and network rail deal with only 51 passengers per employee per day (British Rail hardly carry much freight), which is marginally better than the Indian railway’s western line. For the French railways, the national average is 19.7 passengers per employee per day, almost at par with India. A German railway employee handles 18.7 passengers per day, again at par with India. A China railway employee handles fewer passengers per day than in the US. These statistical comparisons only drive home the point that a reduction in staff numbers can affect safety. A better option will be to improve output per employee per day.

Considering the limitations involved in running speedy intercity passenger trains on a completely “at-grade track network” such as India’s, where roads and highways intersect railways on an average of every two kilometres of route length is also going to be risky. More and more state highways, and rural and urban roads are being built every year in India. It means more roads will keep intersecting tracks .

To ensure safety, upgrading track standards would certainly help. However, it is also true that a substantial portion of the colonial-era railway system cannot take track upgrades beyond a limit. Therefore, the only alternative for India is to follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a ‘diamond corridor’, which was included in the BJP’s 2014 election manifesto. The railway ministry, which was given the task of developing the high-speed rail (HSR) corridor, reneged from the prime minister’s vision to float a parallel programme to operate 180-200 kmph semi-HSR on the existing at-grade embankments, which will be a disaster. Running such fast trains over at-grade track will kill more people. The modernisation of the railways with improved safety can be achieved only through the ‘diamond corridor’ if we want to connect more than 60 very big cities with the about one million passenger population and another 100 big cities with passenger population between 300,000 to one million, with a view to converting these cities into high growth centres. Regional airports and airlines alone cannot provide the kind of multiple intercity connectivity that a single HSR train is capable of providing. From the way in which the successful Rail Vikas Shivir was organised last year with the prime minister’s participation, it appears that a perfectly achievable vision for a modernised and absolutely safe rail network is the prime minister’s alone.

CR revives Vasind-Asangaon Rail line; declare the track safe for train movements

The CR officials said that they declared the track to be safe on the Up-line between Asangaon-Vasind route at 6.25am.

MUMBAI: Finally after more than 97 hours, the Vasind-Asangaon section has become operational. The first train on the affected line, which remained shut since August 29 after the Nagpur-Mumbai Duranto Express derailed, was run at 7.54 am.

The CR officials said that they declared the track to be safe on the Up-line between Asangaon-Vasind route at 6.25am. The alignment work on the new OHE cables was completed by 7.40 am and by 7.54 am the first train — 12154 Bhopal Habibganj-Mumbai LLT — left Asangaon station and reached Vasind at 8.34 am.

“We have put speed restriction and trains are running at 10kmph. And Down-line trains have been made operational at speeds of 30kmph. Speed restrictions will be reviewed from time to time,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, CR.

Quick action

  • More than 500 railway men were pressed into action, and even local villagers came to help by offering food.
  • This train was carrying 1090 passengers and all were rescued safely, and none were injured.

Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derails – 7 Coaches go off track near Asangaon

Nagpur Mumbai Duronto Express derailed near Asangaon in Maharashtra this morning. Local trains have been affected by the accident. Central Railways officials said there have been no casualties reported so far.

ASANGAON: Seven coaches of Nagpur-bound Duronto Express derailed on Tuesday near Asangaon in Maharashtra. Railway officials said there have been no casualties so far. Reports suggest a rescue team has reached from Kalyan.

Central, Western Railway services delayed after Mumbai-Nagpur train derails near Asangaon. According to officials, the Kasara and Kalyan section of the suburban railway has been affected.

“Seven coaches of Duronto Express Nagpur-Mumbai 12290 derailed between Asangaon and Vasind railway stations. So far, no casualties have been reported,” the Central Railway PRO said.

The derailment took place just days after the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district on August 23 At least 81 people were injured after nine coaches of the train derailed in Uttar Pradesh, making it the second train accident in a week. On August 19, Kalinga Utkal Express had also derailed in Muzaffarnagar killing 22 people. Taking moral responsibility for the train accidents under his watch, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had offered to resign but was asked by the Prime Minister to “wait”.

The derailment of the Mumbai-bound Duronto Express has affected the services on the suburban railway. Central Railway officials have stated that the movement of local train between Titwala till Kasara has been affected due to the derailment.

This will affect commuters travelling from far-flung suburbs and towns like Shahapur.

Due to heavy rainfall, the Central Railway mainline services are operating with a delay of 20 minutes and the Harbour line services with a delay of 15 minutes. The local train services on the Western Railway are also operating with a delay of 10 minutes due to heavy rainfall.

There has also been a cascading effect on the local train services between Kalyan to CSMT, which are operating with a 10 to 15 minute delay. This will add to the commuters’ woes, especially during the morning peak hour.

Sunil Udasi, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway, said, “Suburban trains from Kasara and Asangaon are running up to Titwala only.”

On the mainline, CSMT-Howrah Gitanjali Express has been diverted via Kalyan-Panvel-Karjat-Pune-Daund-Manmad.

Seven bogies and the engine of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duranto Express derailed on Tuesday morning. No injuries to passengers were reported in the accident. The preliminary reason for the derailment seems to be heavy rains that had washed away a portion of the tracks.

Last week, four coaches of a harbour line train heading from Andheri to CSMT had derailed at Mahim. The railways conducted a nine-hour long public hearing into this accident on Monday.

9.45 am: Duronto express derails: Rescue operation underway, train traffic affected

9.30 am: Four trains diverted due to Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailment via Kalyan-Lonavala-Pune-Daund-Manmad. Five buses have also read the spot to carry stranded passengers.

9.25 am: While there have been no major injuries today, Friday’s derailment of a suburban local between Andheri and CSMT near Mahim railway station left six people injured. “I tried jumping out of the coach when it was getting derailed. My left leg received serious injuries. I was heading for my work when this happened and now I fear whether I will be able to recuperate soon to able to report to work this month,” Bankelal Kanojiya (38), a victim told.

9.20 am: A helpline booth has been provided near Deputy station superintendent’s office near Platform Number 1 at Nagpur stations.

9.15 am: The coaches derailed at around 6.35 am on the Central Railway making it the third derailment incident in the country in a period of 10 days.

9.10 am: While the Central Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said there has been no casualty or injury, an eyewitness travelling in the train said there may have been some minor injuries. “At least six coaches along with the engine slipped out of the tracks. We could not understand what happened. Few people were stuck in the washrooms and were rescued by fellow travellers breaking glasses of the windows,” Justin Rao, the eye witness, said.

9.05 am: Lohani was appointed as the chief of the Railway Board recently after a string of train mishaps. “Due to the recent spate of accidents, the image of the organisation has taken a severe beating,” he told PTI recently.  Young officers of the northern division were also asked for deep introspection to find the maladies and shortcomings that plagued the system.

9.00 am: “One board member, General Manager and DRM ordered to reach derailment site to provide extensive help to passengers,” Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani was quoted as saying by ANI.

8.55 am: ANI reported that Kasara and Asangaon suburban trains running up to Titwala. CSTM-Howrah Gitanjali Express diverted.

8.45 am: The reason behind the derailment has not been ascertained yet.

8.40 am: Local trains in up and down direction have been affected due to clearing of tracks. “Local trains running till Kalyan,” the Central Railways said.

8.35 am: Railways release helpline numbers. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: 22694040, Thane: 25334840, Kalyan: 2311499, Dadar: 24114836, Nagpur: 2564342

8.30 am: “Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed between Vasind and Asangaon. There are no injuries to passengers. We are arranging buses to bring passengers to the destination. Doctors and senior officers are already at the site,” Central Railways said in a statement.

8.25 am: On August 25, four coaches of a suburban local between Andheri and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) had also derailed near Mahim railway station on the Western Harbour line.

Heritage Billimora-Waghai Narrow Gauge Train’s engine derails near Waghai

SURAT: The heritage Billimora-Waghai narrow gauge train’s engine derailed in the dense forest area at Dungarda village, after it ran off the rail due to some technical reasons on Wednesday afternoon. There has not been any report of casualties.

Passengers, mostly tribal people travelling towards Waghai in Dangs, escaped unhurt when the heritage train going towards Waghai from Billimora derailed near Dungarda.

Official said the derailment occurred near Dungarda village, while approaching Waghai station at about 1:15 pm. The five coaches of the train were on track, while the trolley of the train’s engine derailed.

Station Master of Billimora, BL Bhairwa said, “The train runs on the speed of 20 kilometers. However, the derailment of the engine did not impacted the coaches. Usually, the train is packed with passengers on the week-days as people from Waghai arrive to Billimora for purchase and many arrive here for work”

Bhairwa added, “Our technical teams were rushed to the derailment spot. It took more than seven hours for the workers to lift the engine and put it back on the track. We are investigating the cause of the derailment and that the report will be submitted to the Western Railway (WR) in a day or two”

The heritage Bilimora-Waghai narrow gauge train, a lone mode of long distance travel for the tribal in Dangs, completed 104 years last month.

The 63-km track of this train was laid by the British at the insistence of the Sayajirao Gaekwad in 1913. Initially, the train was supposed to be a part of Gaekwad’s Baroda State Railway (GBSR) which was owned by the Princely State of Baroda which was ruled by the Gaekwad dynasty. The motive behind this track was to keep the connection with the royal state.

Kaifiyat Express derailment: GRP files FIR against Railway Contractor, Dumper Driver

ALLAHABAD: Contradictory statements have emerged from departments of the railways as far as the derailment of the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express is concerned, with the railways claiming that the dumper which allegedly caused the accident belonged to a private person, while the Government Railway Police (GRP) stated that the vehicle was working on a contractual basis with the railways.

According to GRP officials, the dumper was working on construction of a third railway line, a freight corridor. The derailment took place between Pata and Achalda, less than 50 km from Etawah station.

Ravikant Parashar, deputy superintendent of police for GRP Etawah circle said, “The dumper was working on contract basis with the railway to dump soil and gravel for construction of the third line.”

Station officer of GRP Etawah Vijay Singh said, “At around 2:40 am, the dumper overturned and fell on the up track (Kanpur-New Delhi). Before the driver of the dumper could dial 100 to alert railways, the speeding Kaifiyat Express hit the vehicle and got derailed five minutes later.”

“In the accident, at least 40-50 people were injured. They were taken to Auriya, Kannauj and Etawah government hospitals,” Singh added.

On Wednesday evening, an FIR was filed by GRP Etawah against dumper driver Ballu and railway contractor Alok Dubey. “They have been booked under sections 279 (rash driving), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or safety of others) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50) of the IPC. Sections of the Railways Act, Public Property Damage Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. They had dumped soil to create aternate passage over the railway tracks,” SO Singh said.

However, chief public relations officer Gaurav K Bansal of North Central Railways said, “The dumper was neither of the railways nor of its contractors. Since there is no railway crossing, the private dumper attempted to cross the line and got stuck. The driver of the dumper broke the barbed wire and attempted to trespass the line, but when his vehicle got stuck, he abandoned it and ran away.”

According to the railways, there was no fault in signal or in railway track, as other trains which had passed earlier had not reported any faults.

Bansal said, “Loco pilots of Kaifiyat Express are heroes. They were not only alert but took appropriate action to respond to the unprecedented situation. Only 21 passengers were injured.”

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu offers to quit Cabinet taking full responsibility of Accidents. PM ask Prabhu to Wait

Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Union Minister of Railways

NEW DELHI: Suresh Prabhu offers to quit for 2 accidents in 4 days. He tweeted that he met the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra odi taking full moral responsibility. He also said that he is extremely pained to the losses of lives due to train accidents. He said he took moral responsibility for the accidents that have caused him deep anguish over the loss of lives. He said he met PM Narendra Modi, who asked him to wait.

This is what the minister tweeted over the last 10 minutes. “In less than three years as Minister, I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways. Under the leadership of PM, tried 2 overcome decades of neglect thru systemic reforms in all areas leading 2 unprecedented investment & milestones.

New India envisioned by the Prime Minister deserves a Railways which is efficient, modern and accident-free. I promise that is the path, on which Indian Railways is progressing now. I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish. I met the Hon’ble Prime Minister @narendramodi taking full moral responsibility. Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait.”

In back-to-back rail accidents, As many as 74 passengers were injured as nine bogies of the Kaifiyat Express derailed in UP’s Auraiya district early today after dashing against a dumper carrying construction material for railway work, officials here said. Yesterday, 14 coaches of Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Katauli in which 23 people were killed.

While the entire country is in deep anguish at the current juncture and importantly the Indian Railways, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has begun its investigation into the derailment of Kalinga Utkal Express with its personnel visiting the accident site and recording statements of locals in Khatauli, an official said today.

Investigating officer (IO) of the GRP, Deputy Superintendent of Police Randhir Singh met shopkeepers, house owners and others for their account of the what had happened on the evening of August 19.

“We will file our report against those found guilty for the derailment as soon as we will finish our probe,” Singh said.

Thirteen bogies of the train derailed on Saturday in Khatauli near here, killing 22 people and injuring 156, 26 grievously. The GRP had registered a case of death by rash and negligent act in connection with Utkal Express train accident under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and The Railway Act.

2 Derailments in 4 Days: Railway Board Chairman Ashok Mittal resigns

NEW DELHI: Ashok Mittal, Chairman of the Railway Board, today submitted his resignation to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, sources told. Mittal’s resignation comes in the wake of a number of a high-profile accidents and derailments on the Indian Railways.

Mittal was facing flak after the Utkal Express derailment in Muzaffarnagar. On Saturday, 23 passengers died and over 60 sustained injuries when 14 coaches of the Utkal Express, which runs on the Puri-Haridwar-Kalinga route, derailed at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar.

Prabhu had directed the Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility after the Muzaffarnagar incident. He also said that he would not allow laxity in operations by the Railway Board.

“Will not allow laxity in operations by the (Railways) Board. I have directed CRB to fix responsibility on prima facie evidence by end of day,” Prabhu said in a tweet.

Member Engineering Railway Board Ashok Mittal was on Sunday sent on leave after the prima facie evidence showed negligence on the part of maintenance staff as the reason why the Utkal Express derailed.

Divisional Railway Manager Delhi and General Manager Northern Railways, who had himself suspended four railway officials, have also been sent on leave. The Chief Track Engineer, Northern Railway zone, has also been transferred, hours after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asked officials to make those responsible for the tragedy accountable by the end of this day.

R K Verma, Senior Divisional engineer, Delhi division, Rohit Kumar, Assistant engineer, Meerut, Delhi division, Inder Jeet Singh, Senior section engineer, Muzzafarnagar, and Pradeep Kumar, Junior engineer, Khatauli, were the four officials, suspended by the General Manager Northern Railways.

Untrained Safety Category Staff cause of Train Accidents: Commissioner of Railway Safety

NEW DELHI: A  month before the Utkal Express accident, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) S K Pathak had raised concerns about the quality of personnel serving in the Railway’s safety category posts.

In a letter to R K Kulshrestha, General Manager, Northern Railway, which is dated July 17, Pathak had raised doubts on whether the staff was hired giving due regard to the prescribed qualifications.

Kulshrestha was sent on leave following the Utkal Express accident on Saturday.

The letter raised some serious concerns about the safety of passengers travelling on trains. The Commissioner of Railway Safety falls under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and it was done to ensure independent probe by a government agency.

“Most of the recent railway accidents are due to human error. This is a serious reason for concern. It appears that the Railways has failed to ensuring that the newly recruited staff in engineering, signal and telecom, traction departments are adequately trained,” said the commissioner of railway safety.

In Utkal derailment, the Railway Board has accepted negligence by its staff and three topmost railways officers, including Railway Board Member Engineering A K Mittal, has been sent on leave based on prime facie evidence.

Pathak said that in the last five years a number of new facilities, including new lines have been opened after statutory inspection and authorisation by the Commission. “While authorising the opening of some of the new assets, The Commission directed the Railways to post adequate number of trained and qualified staff to maintain these new assets,” Pathak said in the letter.

However, he noted that the Commission was not informed about hiring process and whether the staff have been hired giving due regard to the stipulated norms. Expressing concerns over a spurt in train accidents due to human error, the CRS asked railways to furnish details of the number of recruitments done to man the new facilities.

The Commission has asked the Northern Railway to tender a briefing on the process. “It is advised that the status of filling of safety category posts in all new sections already opened may be submitted to the Commission,” said the communiqué. An internal analysis by the Railways found that 87 per cent of all rail accidents occur due to human error. Of these, 51 per cent are due to failure of the railway staff.

Chitheri Train Accident: Loco Pilot gets 10-year Jail for Accident that claimed lives of 12 and injured 71 in 2011

Police had filed a 395-page charge sheet in the case and said Rajkumar was speaking over the phone, jumped a signal and violated the speed limit. They also listed 165 witnesses in the charge sheet and quoted Southern Railway’s assessment that Rs 2 crore worth property was damaged in the accident.

VELLORE: The principal district and sessions court on Monday sentenced a loco pilot to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for causing a train accident in 2011 that claimed the lives of 12 persons and injured 71.

A mobile phone-wielding loco pilot, whose train rammed a stationary rake in Chitheri killing 12 people in 2011, has been found guilty of committing culpable homicide, and sentenced to 10-year imprisonment.

Vellore principal district sessions judge S Ananthi convicted loco pilot A Rajkumar who drove the Chennai Beach-Vellore MEMU on the fateful day, under two counts and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for maximum period of 10 years. Delivering the verdict, principal district and sessions judge sentenced A. Rajkumar, the then loco pilot of Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) Train no. 66017 – Chennai Beach to Vellore Cantonment, to 10 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code.

According to A Dilli Babu, public prosecutor, a total of 74 witnesses were examined in the case, and 12 material evidence too were submitted. This included the mobile phone of the loco pilot and speedometer of the train engine.

Rajkumar had made phone call to a fellow loco-pilot, Ravi, when he was in-charge of the train. During the conversation, he told Ravi that he had to return from Vellore to Chennai the same night and hence he was rushing to Katpadi. During the course of the conversation, the phone call got disconnected and then it became not reachable, Ravi had depose during the trial.

Police stated that the train was being driven at 97 kmph, as against the permitted speed of 75 kilometres per hour.

During trial, police also produced the call details of Rajkumar’s mobile number, which clearly showed that he was speaking on the mobile while driving the train, which is against rules as per the Railway Board orders. While on the call, he missed the signal and dashed against the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train.

On September 13, 2011, the Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit-66017 driven by Rajkumar rammed into a stationary train Arakkonam-Katpadi Passenger at Chitheri at 9.24 pm. Twelve persons died, while 71 were grievously injured in the accident. Of the 12 deceased, 11 had died on the spot, while another person died at the hospital. The then station master of Walajah Road station Krish Kumar, 31, was one among the deceased. He had gone to Arakkonam to buy gifts for his son’s first birthday.

Sessions judge Ananthi sentenced that Rajkumar must serve 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for offences punishable under Section 304 (ii) of IPC besides five years and Rs 1 lakh fine under Section 3 of Tamil Nadu Public Property Prevention of Damage and Loss Act, 1992 read with 151 of Railways Act. Though he was also booked under section 308 of IPC, he was acquitted of the charge. He will serve the imprisonment concurrently. If he failed to pay the fine, he will have to undergo one year imprisonment. He was acquitted of charges filed under Section 308 (attempt to culpable homicide) of the IPC. He will undergo the imprisonment concurrently.

“As per stipulated rules, the train should ply at 75 kmph. Instead, the train was plying at 97 kmph,” he said.

Police had filed a 395-page charge sheet in the case and said Rajkumar was speaking over the phone, jumped a signal and violated the speed limit. They also listed 165 witnesses in the charge sheet and quoted Southern Railway’s assessment that Rs 2 crore worth property was damaged in the accident.

Everybody knew Khatauli Track had Cracks, Why One-Sided Action?

Saturday, 19 August, 2017 will go down in the history of the Indian Railways as the day when everyone knew of the impending disaster, but no one blew the whistle. 

NEW DELHI: The railway track at Khatauli had developed cracks. It could break any time. The maintenance team from the Engineering Department are aware of it. The maintenance engineer (Permanent Ways Inspector) sought permission from the Station Master for a block of 15-20 minutes for a no-traffic window when they could have cut the damaged portion and repaired it. The station master, after consulting his superiors – section controller – denied the block.

Maintenance Workers Flee on Seeing the Train

The maintenance team then went ahead without permission. They cut the railway line, re-laid the undamaged section of the railway line and started welding the piece.

Before the job was finished, they saw the Kalinga Utkal Express approaching at a speed of 105 km/hour.

The workers fled the scene leaving the work unfinished. They panicked so much that they even left their welding machine and tools on the track.

The facts are slowly emerging of criminal negligence from all quarters that resulted in derailment of the Kalinga Utkal Express in Khatauli.

Saturday, 19 August, will go down in the history of the Indian Railways as the day when everyone knew of the impending disaster, but no one blew the whistle. The audio-recordings and documents that indicate culpability of both the engineering section as well as the operations division of the railways is a clear indication that lethargic staff from various departments contributed for the mishap, and not just engineering department. The Operating Staff also played a role in derailment and cannot go unscathed.

ASM Seeks 20-Minute Window for Repair

In one such recording, Assistant Station Master (ASM) of Khatauli,Prakash Kumar is heard asking Section Controller (SC), PB Taneja – responsible for operations and smooth traffic between Delhi and Saharanpur – that PWI is asking for a 20 minutes ‘block’. The conversation that took place minutes before the mishap goes like this –

SC: Khatauli?

ASM: Sir, the PWI people are asking for a 20-minutes block.

SC: Which block is this now?

ASM: They are saying they have to change something called the glue-joint? But that would bring entire traffic to a halt – main line and loop line, everything will be blocked.

SC: Trains are lined up…

ASM: Yes sir, that is what I have been telling them. Group of trains are coming, how can a block be given to them?

SC: Okay.

In another conversation, the ASM is asking the Section Controller whether he should turn the signal red. SC tells him how can that be allowed as the Utkal Express would then come to a halt. The train has already started moving and should not be stopped at Khatauli.

ASM followed the instructions and it culminated in the mishap which claimed over two dozen lives.

There is yet another conversation that took place a while earlier, in which the ASM is informing the SC of an impending request of PWI for a 15-minutes window to repair the track, but the SC flatly refuses to grant the block as this was a rush hour and a number of trains were moving in that direction.

Unfair to Blame Only the Engineering Division

The matter was, in fact, discussed not only at the junior level – PWI and SM, but at senior levels too. Senior Divisional Manager RK Verma spoke to Divisional Operations/Movements Manager (Delhi), Sudeep Kumar about the cracks in the track at Khatauli.

A day after the accident, station master of Khatauli, Rajendra Singh, in his interviews to newspapers and TV channels, denied knowledge of any ongoing repair on the track.

In any case, when ongoing repair work was common knowledge in Khatauli, Singh feigning ignorance about something that was barely 200 meters from his station and was informed repeatedly about the need for a ‘block’, is simply criminal. A memo was also written by the PWI to SM, Khatauli, Rajendra Singh seeking permission for repairs.

This resulted in the blame being squarely laid on the engineering division and immediate action was initiated against eight officials – right from the PWI to Member (Engineering) of the Railway Board. The operations divisions, however, escaped unscathed. No action was initiated against ASM, SM, SC, Divisional Operations Manager, Chief Operations Manager or Member (Traffic) of Railway Board.

One-Sided Action

It is not that the engineering section is above board. If there were cracks in the track, they shouldn’t have given the go-ahead without permission from the operations division.

Even if they had to go urgently, they should have taken enough precautions to avert the mishap. They should have posted couple of personnel with red flags at least one kilometre ahead of the repair site. This would have either stopped the train or at least would have slowed it down to a manageable speed.

This is the first time top officials like Member, Railway Board, have been taken to task for a train accident. But only one-sided action against the engineering division is causing more than just a few ripples.

Criminal negligence in Utkal Derailment: 4 Engineers suspended, 3 top Officials sent on leave

Gangmen, employees who are recruited to maintain railway tracks, are asked to do personal chores of Railway Officers at railway their Bungalows, claim sources. Chores include buying vegetables for railway personnel, escorting kids to school, cleaning, washing and maintaining the bungalows etc. This could be one of the reasons behind the derailment of Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express on Saturday as these gangmen spend more time doing chores than maintain tracks; sources said.

NEW DELHI: Four engineers were suspended, three top officials — including the Northern Railway General Manager — were sent on leave, while another was transferred for Saturday’s train accident in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, in which 24 passengers were killed.

The action was taken after a Railway inquiry found the Permanent Way Department that checks the routes of regular trains responsible for the derailment of the high-speed Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express near Khatauli Railway station. The inquiry team informed the Railway Ministry that maintenance work was in progress at the accident site and tracks were being cut with the help of hexa blades. It had resulted in removal of some nuts and bolts and displacement of fish plates. The accident that left more than a hundred passengers wounded was caused by the toppling of the 13th coach, sources said.

Based on prima facie evidence, the ministry suspended a Junior Engineer, a Senior Section Engineer, an Assistant Engineer and a Senior Divisional Engineer. The Chief Track Engineer, Northern Railway, has been transferred, while the Northern Railway General Manager, the Divisional Railway Manager and the Member Engineering of the Railway Board have been sent on leave. Heads rolled after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asked the Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility “by end of day.” An FIR was registered against unknown persons for causing death by negligence, mischief, and destruction of railway property.

Sources at Khatauli Raliway station said the tracks were under repair but authorities did not caution the driver to slow down. The train was running at 105 kmph when thirteen of its carriages jumped the tracks. The train does not stop at Khatauli, about 130 km north of Delhi. Trains passing through the Meerut line of the Northern Railway were either cancelled or diverted till 6 pm on Sunday.

The Railways has already approved a proposal to change about 200 metres of damaged tracks near Khatauli. The work on the project is on and trains on this route are supposed to be cautioned to run slow, sources said. Two coaches of the train crashed into a residential area, ramming a house and a college.

The Railways’ Additional Director General, BK Maurya, earlier in the day talked about two possibilities. “Either the train driver overlooked the caution board to slow or Railway authorities did not put up any caution board at all. In case of the second possibility, the station master should have called the driver or changed the track. He could have also given the stop signal to avert the derailment.”

Two trains had passed the tracks, before the accident, at 15 kmph without any problem, he said, adding, “Over-speeding and gross negligence by Khatauli station authorities seem to be prima facie case behind the derailment,” he said. This was the fourth major accident — third in UP — over the past year on the world’s fourth biggest rail network.

Maurya did not rule out the possibility of the driver applying the emergency brakes, reasons for which are under investigation by higher authorities. “Otherwise, the train would not have turned turtle or coaches piled on top of one another,” he said.

“Some maintenance work was going on, which might have caused the derailment,” Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, also said at a news briefing here.

“There is an audio clip of a conversation that we will probe. Also, when we did a site inspection, we saw some equipment of the railways used for track repair present there,” he said.

An eye-witness also supported the officials’ theory. “There was a deafening sound before the derailment as if the train hit something. It seemed that the driver saw something at the last moment and applied the emergency brakes,” he said.

Sources in the engineering division of the Railways claim that they had warned the Khatauli station authorities of repair work being carried out on the tracks. “We had no knowledge of technical problems,” Khatauli Station Superintendent Rajinder Singh, however, told a news channel.

Gangmen, employees who are recruited to maintain railway tracks, are asked to do personal chores at railway quarters, claim sources. Chores include buying vegetables for railway personnel, escorting kids to school, and maintaining the bungalows etc. This could be one of the reasons behind the derailment of Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express on Saturday as these gangmen spend more time doing chores than maintain tracks, sources add.

Has Corrupt Bureaucracy at Zonal level eroded Rail Safety?

53% of 586 train accidents in last 5 yrs due to derailments. Less than 40% spend of the Rail Safety Fund by Zonal Railways for Safety Upgrade seems to be one of the biggest reason apart from corrupt Bureaucracy that eroded Rail Safety – an important task which is not a Rocket Science. Lack of determination and willingness to set proper practices in place and the lack of professional approach in meeting Safety Norms by few Officials at Zonal level is the cause of concern; leave alone the Laxity in Bureaucracy!

(The writer is Secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own).

Muzaffarnagar: The death of 23 passengers due to the derailment of the Haridwar-bound Utkal Express on 19 August is yet another instance of callousness of our Railways. This is not a one-off incident. Seventy derailments were reported in 2016, and almost 30 more have been reported this year. Derailment of goods trains and incidents with no casualty are hardly ever covered by the media.

Even when passengers escape death, frequent derailments are not a good sign. If anything, it shows that either the wheels are worn out or there is some mechanical failure. Nearly 53 per cent of the 586 train accidents in the last five years were due to derailments with the Utkal Express derailment being the latest. Notwithstanding the railways’ attempts to upgrade the safety apparatus, many such accidents continue to occur.

According to official figures, of a total of 586 rail accidents in the last five years, nearly 53 per cent were due to derailments.

Since November 2014, there have been 20 rail accidents, many of them minor.

The worst accident was the November 20, 2016, derailment of the Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur which resulted in 150 deaths and over 150 injuries.

The train pulled out of Pukhrayan station, on the outskirts of Kanpur, and derailed soon after. Several causes, including overcrowding and fracture in the railway line, were attributed to the accident.

On September 12, 2015, a narrow-gauge train, the Shivalik Queen, a chartered train from Kalka to Shimla, derailed on September 12, 2015.

36 British tourists and a tour guide were on the train. Two of the tourists died in the accident and 15 were injured.

Nine coaches of the Secunderabad Junction-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Duronto Express derailed near Karnataka’s Kalburgi town on September 12, 2015, resulting in two deaths and seven injuries.

On January 21, 40 passengers were killed and several injured when seven coaches and the engine of 18448 Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed near Kuneru railway station.

The Madhya Pradesh twin train derailments happened on August 4, 2015, when the Kamayani Express, on its way to Varanasi in UP, was the first to derail owing to flash floods in the area, followed by the Janata Express. The total casualty was 31 with over 100 injured.

The Rourkela-Jammu Tawi Muri Express derailed in Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh on May 25, 2015. Eight bogies of the train derailed, leaving five dead and over 50 injured.

On March 20, 2015, the Dehradun-Varanasi Janata Express derailed in Rae Bareli district resulted in the death of 58 passengers and injuring over 150.

On February 13, 2015, 10 people were killed and around 150 were injured when nine bogies of the Bangalore-Ernakulam Intercity Express derailed on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Placing the Blame Without Proof

In some cases, even though sabotage is hinted at, the claims are not backed by proof. The sabotage angle is thrown in and by the time the enquiry is over, no one gets to read the report.

In a recent accident in Kanpur on 20 November, the Railways department immediately blamed the fractured tracks, without showing a photograph or any concrete proof. Later on 28 January, a Railway Safety Commission official ruled out sabotage and fog, fixing the blame instead on overaged wheels.

Funds Meant for Safety Misused

The amount, Rs 1 lakh crore, given to Railways for enhancing safety could now be misused — just as the Safety Fund created by Nitish Kumar was misused. The money will be spent on laying new lines and gauge conversion which should ideally come under capital expenditure. Hardly 30 percent would be spent on signal improvement, maintenance and technology upgradation, such as the remote checking of trains.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the action taken on its recommendations says (SCR 188 2013-14) that less than 40 percent of the money allotted for safety had been utilised by the Railways!

Mr Suresh Prabhu has an onerous job of utilising this fund for its original purpose. One can hope a number of distressed bridges, old tracks, out of date signalling systems, and other safety enhancement devices are replaced using the Safety Fund.

A Long Pending Technology Overhaul

If you read the previous ten Railway budgets, you can find references to projects like anti-collision device, advance warning system, satellite-based global positioning system, train collision avoidance system, train protection warning system, fire-retardant coaches, vigilance control device, auxiliary warning system, self-propelled ultrasonic rail testing cars (for flaw detection). However, these are still pilot projects.

If you let them, the department will invent phrases for another ten budgets. It feasts on the ignorance of public, and an absence of overall accountability.

Railways would not install scoot and flash devices at unmanned level crossings, but they would appoint people (to generate a source of income) to close the gates. Several gatemen had been found sleeping or absent while accidents happened.

It is not true that more money means more safety. Most of the accidents have been caused by human errors, and this is the result of poor training and wrong recruitment policies. With no change in these, merely pumping more money will not make rail travel safer.

The Department Does Not Listen

For years, the suggestions that every coach must have a fire extinguisher (in SL too), engines must have fog lights (at least two accidents during every fog season), and that they must have helicopters at every zonal or even divisional HQ for quick relief during accidents, have fallen on deaf ears.

It is the height of callousness that the rescue team arrived at the Utkal train accident site on Saturday without a search light. They think it is cheaper to pay compensation than take better safety measures. After an accident on 13 February, a passenger had to walk 4 kilometres just to inform the authorities.

The Railways’ responsibility to transport passengers safely is now only a moral obligation. It must be made a legal one. Canadian railway safety management system regulations and their Safe and Accountable Rail Act ensures accountability are worthy of emulation.

Railway Safety is Not Rocket Science

An independent committee must be entrusted with the money and the plans to implement them. The Chief Vigilance Commissioner has said that corruption is on the rise in the Railways (4 August 2015 in the Times of India). This only goes on to show how far beyond accountability the railway bureaucracy actually is.

Efficiency has not increased even by one percent, as the Bibek Debroy Committee pointed out. Railway Safety Commission should be truly made independent by appointing engineers from outside the department. Although for namesake, this Safety Commission is attached to Civil Aviation Ministry, it is manned by Railway men on deputation.

Can you, trust them any longer? It is high time this monolithic structure is broken down to create five PSUs. They should have technocrats, industrialists, and financial analysts from outside on the Board which is now limited to employees. The self-serving, corrupt bureaucracy is the built-in danger.

Railway Authorities hint negligence caused UP train tragedy

Negligence at the local level appeared to have caused the derailment of Utkal Express in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, one of the deadliest train accidents in the recent times in which 22 people were killed and over 150 injured, 26 of them grievously, officials indicated on Sunday.

A probe has been ordered to ascertain the exact cause of Saturday’s derailment, with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu directing railway board chairman to fix responsibility on “prima facie evidence by the end of day”.

The train, which was on its way from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, had 23 coaches, of which 13 derailed, said Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi Division, R N Singh.

Six coaches of the train, which was running at a speed of over 100 kmph, were severely damaged, he added. One coach crashed into a house.

The railways have deployed high-tech cranes and scores of workers to clear the tracks near Khatauli.

Two 140-tonne cranes were being used since Sunday morning to clear the derailed coaches, from which survivors had been rescued and bodies pulled out.

Rescue operation by the National Disaster Response Force got over at around 3 am.

The death toll in the accident on Sunday went up to 22, with one more person identified as Sushil Kumar succumbing to his injuries in a hospital in Ghaziabad, according to District Magistrate of Muzaffarnagar G S Priydarshi. Of them, 15 bodies have been identified.

Principal Secretary (Information) to the UP government Awanish Kumar Awasthi said 156 people were injured in the derailment and many among them remain critical.

A preliminary probe has found that maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks which might have caused the derailment, said Mohd Jamshed, Member Traffic, Railway Board, at a news briefing in New Delhi.

The senior official, who rushed to the spot in Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh where the accident occurred, said he had seen maintenance tools on the tracks.

“Prime facie, it seems maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks…. Some maintenance work was going on, which might have caused the derailment of Utkal Express,” Jamshed said.

He said a probe would reveal if any maintenance work was being done on the tracks without permission.

“Prima facie, the information is that there is divisional responsibility involved if work was being done without seeking permission. By this evening we will know if any of our staff was responsible for this,” he said.

It was not “clear” what kind of work was going on at the site, the official said.

“However, any work on tracks has to follow a manual. We have maintenance manuals which lay down guidelines for work on any kind of railway infrastructure,” Jamshed said, adding the probe will reveal if the procedures were followed.

The probe, which will begin on Monday, will be conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Shailesh Kumar Pathak, who will look into “every angle, be it sabotage, technical lapse or manual fault”.

“There is some audio clip of some conversation that we will probe. Also, when we did the site inspection, we saw some equipment the railways use for track repair present there,” he said.

“Whenever this kind of a big accident happens, coaches get smashed, toppled, capsized and derailed. In this case, a 200-metre track has been damaged completely. It has to be investigated in detail. All measurements are being taken and every lapse is being taken into account,” Jamshed said.

The senior officer also said the Railway Police had lodged an FIR in the case at Khatauli under sections that included mischief causing destruction of railway property, causing death by negligence, causing grievous hurt, endangering life and personal safety.

Explaining the procedure for maintenance followed by the railways, Jamshed wondered if it was followed in this case.

“Fixed infrastructure on which the rail network runs like tracks, overhead equipment and signals are regularly maintained as per schedule. Maintenance of tracks is done during operations by blocking them as per requirement, according to fixed time and schedule. Written permission needs to be taken for this work,” he said.

He also said sometimes repair needs to be done on an emergency basis, but even then, if the next station is informed, the consequent trains are stopped.

“Then we get our supervisors on the track which is inspected and repaired after which the trains are allowed to run with a speed restriction. Red flags are also shown to trains in case there is a problem on the tracks,” he said.

He said it would be investigated if these protocols were followed this time.

23 killed, 40 injured as 14 Coaches of Utkal Express derail in UP – Terrorists’ Role Suspected


Utkal Express accident: Terrorists’ role suspected as an incident was also reported on the same route wherein miscreants pelted stones at Dehradun-Delhi Shatabdi Express near Khatauli Railway Station 5 hours before derailment of Utkal Express. In addition, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detected at Guwahati Railway Station on August 18, 2017 packed in bag, which was booked by Rail Mail Service. UP ATS rushed to spot. On being asked about the possibility of terrorist’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

Coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express after it derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

MUZAFFARNAGAR: At least 23 passengers were killed and over 40 injured when 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday evening, the Uttar Pradesh police said. The casualty figure might go up.

Earlier, UP Principal secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar had said, “11 dead bodies and 65 injured have been brought to Khatauli hospital,”

The accident took place around 5.45 pm. Khatauli is around 40 km from Muzaffarnagar. Television visuals show that derailed bogies have crashed into a house.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry into the derailment. He said he was personally monitoring the situation and strict action will be taken in case of any lapse.

As many as 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed.

Prabhu later announced ex gratia of Rs 3.5 Lakh for those who lost their lives in the derailment, Rs 50,000 for seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for people with minor injuries.

In a series of tweets, Prabhu also said that Minister of State Manoj Sinha has rushed to the spot while the chairman of Railway Board and member traffic have been asked to oversee rescue and relief operations.

Two National Disaster Response Force teams, comprising 45 personnel each, and two canines have been mobilised to the accident site from their base in Ghaziabad. Medical vans have also been rushed to the site.

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‘All efforts being taken to ensure speedy relief and rescue operations,’ Prabhu said.

Five hours prior to the derailment at Khatauli, an incident was reported wherein some miscreants pelted stones at the Dehradun-Delhi Shatabdi Express near Muzaffarnagar railway station here, damaging some window panes. No one was injured in the incident which occurred after the train crossed the railway station, according to railway protection force. The police have registered a case against unidentified people.

Gathering of people near derailed Utkal Express site in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

The Railway Ministry was also in close touch with the Uttar Pradesh government to coordinate rescue and relief operations.

In Lucknow, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said that top priority was being accorded to ensure prompt rescue and relief work.

He said teams of Provincial Armed Constabulary and NDRF have been rushed to the spot.

Since darkness was impeding rescue operations, he said the power department officials had been directed to ensure that there was no shortage of electricity.

Kumar also said IMA chapters in Meerut zone have been alerted and asked to ensure adequate and prompt medical care to the injured.

Kumar said a team of UP Anti-Terrorism Squad was also sent to the spot, though there is no confirmation of the terrorism angle.

Coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train that derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar

Railways spokesperson Anil Saxena said at this stage, nothing can be said about the cause of the derailment.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath enquired about the accident and directed officials to take all possible action, an official spokesperson said.

Adityanath has directed two of his ministers to reach the site to expedite rescue and relief operations.

Adityanath directed senior ministers Suresh Rana and Satish Mahana to rush to the train accident site.

He also spoke with the Muzaffarnagar district magistrate and instructed him to ensure all possible relief to affected people, an official spokesperson said.

Hospitals have been instructed to provide free treatment to the injured passengers, the spokesperson said.

A coach of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train after it derailed and crashed into a house in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.

He said four NDRF teams were also being rushed there — three from Ghaziabad and one from Delhi.

Besides, 35 ambulances, bread, butter, 1,000 food packets, additional private and state-run buses were being arranged, he said.

Volunteers were being mobilized from adjoining Meerut, the spokesperson said.

Medical colleges, district hospitals and large number of private hospitals were being prepared to receive patients, he said.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi expressed condolences over the loss of lives in the accident.

People resqueing the passengers trapped inside the mangled Coaches of the Utkal Express

‘Sad at train derailment in UP; my thoughts are with deceased and their families. Injured are being rescued and provided relief,’ President Kovind tweeted.

The PM said the railway ministry and the state government were doing everything possible and providing all assistance required.

He said the situation was being monitored very closely by the railways ministry.

‘Extremely pained by the derailment of the Utkal Express in Muzaffarnagar. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased,’ the prime minister tweeted. ‘I wish those injured a speedy recovery. The situation is being monitored very closely by the Railway Ministry,’ Modi said.

The railways and the UP government are ‘doing everything possible and providing all assistance required in the wake of the train derailment’, the PM added.

Reportedly, the UP Police suspect the role of terrorists behind the derailment of 6 coaches of Utkal Express near Khatauli in UP’s Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday.

The UP Anti-Terror Squad has been rushed to the accident spot to probe the terror angle.

On being asked by the media about the possibility of militant’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

On being asked by the media about the possibility of militant’s involvement, the CPRO of Northern Railways Neeraj Sharma said that the accident would be probed from all the angles.

Some media reports have also claimed that recently track repairing work was carried out where the Puri Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express derailed.

The reports claimed that after the repairing work, rail tracks were not properly filled with sand. However, the Northern Railways CPRO denied the reports of repairing work being done on the tracks. The train was coming from Puri and was going to Haridwar. It met with the accident around 6:45 pm.

Member of security forces moves a bag containing improvised explosive device (IDE) from arm of a bomb disposal robot to an explosion-proof tank outside a railway station in Guwahati on August 18, 2017. A potential accident was averted on Friday by local police after an IED packed in bag, which was booked by Rail Mail Service, was detected at the station, said local official.

 

NIA Chargesheet in Rail Accidents points to Pakistan’s ISI role – a plot bigger than expected on cards

The NIA has blamed ISI for roping in a Nepalese citizen to arrange for men to plant pressure cooker bombs on rail tracks to blow up passenger trains.

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed the first chargesheet in cases of alleged conspiracy behind rail accidents before a Patna court. Nine people, including two Nepalese citizens, have been charged with conspiracy to blow up rail tracks and a train near Bihar’s Ghorasahan railway station in October 2016.

The NIA is also investigating railway accidents near Kanpur and Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh last year that killed over 180 people. One of the accused in Bihar conspiracy had also owned up the Kanpur accident. His claim has not been corroborated with evidence yet.

The NIA has blamed ISI for roping in a Nepalese citizen to arrange for men to plant pressure cooker bombs on rail tracks to blow up passenger trains. The chargesheeted accused have been identified as Umashankar Patel, Gajendra Sharma, Rakesh Kumar Yadav, Ranjay Sah, Mukesh Yadav, Motilal Paswan and Arun Ram, Brij Kishore Giri and Samsul Hoda. Hoda, who along with Giri is from Nepal, has been identified as the main accused. He is alleged to have organised men in Bihar with Giri’s help to execute the attacks on ISI agent Mohammed Shafi Sheikh’s instructions.

NIA sources said that Hoda was in the business of providing manpower and had earlier worked in Malaysia. He later shifted to Dubai, where he came in touch with Sheikh. Hoda contacted Giri, who arranged for three Bihar men to allegedly execute the attack.

The chargesheet alleged that Hoda visited Pakistan in July 2016 along with Shafi. “The conspiracy hatched was to carry out IED explosions on railway tracks and bridges, to blow up passenger trains to cause loss to public life, disrupt essential lines of communication and to thereby cause threat to security and integrity of India.’’

The NIA said that six of the chargesheeted accused are in jail. Giri and Hoda are in custody in Nepal for their role in a murder. Ram was murdered in December. It was during the investigations into Ram’s murder that Bihar police stumbled upon the conspiracy and arrested two people, including Motilal Paswan who owned up the Kanpur accident.

Shafi Shaik by that time fled to Pakistan via. UAE and is expected to reside either in Karachi or Islamabad.

The chargesheet alleged that Hoda had transferred money into Giri’s account to allegedly recruit bomb-makers and planters and for arranging logistics. Giri allegedly recruited Sharma, Rakesh Yadav, Patel, Mukesh Yadav, Paswan, Sah and Ram to allegedly carry out terrorist acts.

The NIA alleged that the accused fabricated and planted another IED on a railway track near Adapur and Nakardei railway stations on December 3. An audio clip has been attached to the chargesheet. Giri is purportedly telling Patel in the clip that another group had been successful in its sabotage activity in Kanpur while he has failed to cause an accident despite placing bombs.

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Nearly 53 per cent Rail Accidents due to Derailments: MOSR

NEW DELHI: The government today said that of a total of 586 rail accidents in last five years, nearly 53 per cent were due to derailments.

Quoting a report by the NITI Ayog, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain informed Lok Sabha that in last five years (2012-13 to 2016-17) out of a total of 1,011 casualties, 347 occurred due to derailments, 67 in MLC accidents and 449 in UMLC accidents.

These together amounted to 85 per cent of the total casualties.

He said out of a total of 586 accidents, 308 were due to derailments, 21 occurred on Manned Level Crossings (MLCs) and 199 on Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs). They together accounted for 90 per cent of the total accidents.

The total number of those injured in the said period were 1,634. As many as 944 were injured in derailments, 58 in MLC accidents and 342 in UMLC accidents which amount to 82 per cent of those injured.

The minister also made a reference to the High Level Safety Review Committee (HLSRC) headed by Anil Kakodkar that had suggested various measures for improving rail safety, including setting up of a Railway Safety Authority (RSA).

“A majority of the practical measures suggested by the Kakodkar committee have been implemented. However, there is no decision to create a railway safety authority.

“An independent institution namely the Commission of Railway Safety already functions under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It discharges the functions of review/approval of safety aspects in railways independently,” Gohain said.

Advanced Safety System on 3330 km to prevent Train Accidents

NEW DELHI: Train travel is set to become faster and safer in certain sections with Indian Railways introducing Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) on total 3330 km at an estimated cost of Rs 2000 crore.

The advanced accident prevention measure, under which trains will be in constant communication with the signals through sensors installed on the track side, will be implemented in two phases over the next three-four years.

A pilot project of the system was operationalised a few years ago in certain sections of the railways.

The TPWS, which also reduces delays during foggy weather, is a proven European train protection technology and deployed extensively on world railways.

With the Railways planning to go for semi high speed and high speed trains, there is a need to have automatic train controlling system.

TPWS has capability to control the speed of train in accordance with the sectional permitted speed and signal aspect ahead by automatic actuation of brakes, in case loco pilot fails to do so in time.

Thus it mitigates safety risk of accidents/collisions due to loco pilot’s error of signal passing at danger or over speeding, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved in the project.

It is important to see that when the line capacity is saturated and more trains are running, there is a proper and effective train control system, he said.

TPWS work has been sanctioned on 3330 route km on automatic signalling/high density routes.

Currently the work is underway for installing the advanced safety measure in two phases.

In the first phase, the implementation of TPWS works has been taken up on 1244 km route of automatic signalling sections with EMU services including Sealdah-Howrah-Khana section, Delhi-Panipat section, Howrah-Kharagpur section and Chennai Beach-Tambaram-Chengalpattu section.

In the second phase, the implementation of TPWS on 2086 km route has also been taken up on high density routes including Delhi-Ambala- Amritsar section, Ghaziabad-Tundla- Kanpur, Kanpur-Mughalsarai and Agra-Gwalior sections, Mumbai Central-Virar-Vadodara-Ahmedabad section and Arakkonam- Jolarpettai section.

The phase-I and phase-II are planned for implementation in next 3-4 years.

The requirement of enhanced safety for train operations has always been of paramount importance. With increasing speed and dense train traffic on the Indian Railway network, enhanced safety assumes greater significance, he said.

At present, TPWS has been operationalised in Chennai- Gummidipundi suburban section, Dum Dum-Kavi Subhash section of Kolkata Metro Railway, Hazrat Nizamuddin-Agra Section and Basin Bridge-Arrakonam Section.

Further, based on experience gained, it has been planned with priority for introduction of this technology on high density network, the official said.

Railway Board pulls up Zonal Railways for not providing key derailment details in time

NEW DELHI: Concerned over rise in train derailments, Railway Board has pulled up zonal railways for failing to provide complete information of derailments thus delaying evaluation in the matter and they have been directed to ensure complete reporting of facts related to accidents for further investigation.

In directions issued to all 17 zonal railways, board said that on one of the railways, an incident occurred in February this year involving derailment of a loaded goods train and only brief information about derailment was sent and details like track structure, feature of derailment, relevant site details and photograph were not sent even after 24 hours.

It further said that instructions already exist that any unusual accident shall be promptly reported for information of Member Engineering and in case of derailment involving passenger train, the information has to be given telephonically.

“Concerned zonal railway was also supposed to send appreciation report for every accident occurred on the Railway promptly. But in the above case, appreciation report was also not sent even after lapse of 36 hours of occurring of accident,” said the order issued.

According to board, the prime facie cause as rail fracture was received from safety directorate only, but no engineering officer from site bothered to inform about the same.

“This has been viewed very seriously by Member Engineering, Railway Board. It shall be appreciated that unless detailed information is available, it is not possible to evaluate the case, which is essentially required during discussion at Board level,” it said.

The ministry has now warned the zonal railways not to repeat such lapses and ensure that instructions on reporting are fully complied with and all relevant details including photographs of site are furnished promptly.

All zonal railways have also been called to put in place a mechanism for prompt reporting of complete details of accidents and unusual occurrences in their respective areas.

With rise in train accidents in last six months, Railways has come out with a checklist defining roles and duty of safety officers as it was found that important information post-accident needed for investigation was lost due to lack of knowledge by concerned officers.

Rajya Rani Express Derailment: GRP lodges FIR against Railway officials

Agencies bicker over Rajya Rani crash cause. After eight bogies of Lucknow-bound Rajya Rani Express derailed in Moradabad on Saturday, Railways rules out sabotage, UP ATS differs

LUCKNOW: Eight bogies of Lucknow-bound Rajya Rani Express derailed between Rampur and Mundapanda stations in Moradabad at 8.17 am on Saturday, apparently due to broken track.

The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) theory of sabotage in Saturday’s derailment of Lucknow bound Rajya Rani Express got credence on Sunday when Government Railway Police (GRP), Rampur lodged an FIR against unidentified Indian Railways’ officers and employees under Railways Act, 1989.

The FIR should cause embarrassment and worry also to Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister, and also railway authorities. It is for the first time in recent years that an FIR was lodged against officers and employees of railways squarely holding them responsible for the derailment, in which many passengers were injured.

The GRP Rampur said in the FIR that when they reached the derailment site they saw that a part of the railway track was fractured. Many of the passengers, eye-witnesses and also the Uttar Pradesh ATS, which has been entrusted with the task of holding the inquiry by the Union minister, also corroborated same.

The FIR has been lodged against unidentified Raliways’ officers and employees under Sections 137, 287, 338, 427 and 154 of the Railways Act, 1989 and began the probe separately.

The FIR categorically holds the Railways responsible for the derailment of the train.

Though the Railways ruled out any sabotage or act of terror, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which has been entrusted with the task of probing derailment is baffled by over a metre of uprooted track at the mishap site.

The Meerut-Lucknow 22454 was at a bridge over river Kosi, about 4 kms from Rampur and about 20 kms from Moradabad in Western UP, when the derailment happened. According to the police and Railways, 12 persons were injured, three of them critically. Eye-witness, however, claim that over 60 passengers sustained injuries.

UP Chief Minister Adityanath announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 to seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for other injured passengers. He also rushed his Cabinet colleague Baldev Aulkah to the spot to supervise relief work and ensure that injured were given proper treatment at Rampur and Moradabad hospitals.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted to institute an inquiry and rushed NDRF and Railways’ officers to the spot, one of the busiest rail route in the sector. After visiting the spot, a senior railway officer told that the derailment was due to cracks on welded track.

“The welding joining two tracks seems to have chipped out, breaking the track and resulting in derailment,” said the officer. The UP ATS, which also rushed a team, however, refused to believe the theory as over a metre of track was found uprooted at the spot.

“If the track’s welding had chipped off then how come over a metre track was found broken?” questions a senior ATS officer adding that they will “look into all aspects”.

A similar incident of broken track was reported from Agra two months earlier. One of the gangmen had seen the broken track and timely action by Railways had saved any derailment there. During the course of the inquiry, a few recent derailment incidents between Kanpur and Jhansi were suspected to be terror acts after the UP ATS arrested a few terrorists belonging to different modules.

The UP ATS has found two unidentified clamps a few metres away from the derailment spot and will send it for forensic examination. The ATS team is also seeking information from Railways’ engineering wing about the process of welding two tracks instead of adopting century-old nut and bolt system which is used world over.

Rajya Rani Express derailment: Railways hints at Sabotage

RAMPUR, MORADABAD DIVISION: Hinting at sabotage behind the Rajya Rani Express derailment, the Railways today said defects in the track could be due to “extraneous factors” as they could not develop suddenly.

A three-foot portion of the railway track was found missing, the police had said earlier.

“The track was tested on February 27 using ultrasonic flaw detectors (USFD) and no defect was found. So, the possibility of involvement of extraneous factors in causing damage to the track cannot be ruled out,” said a source in the railway ministry.

The next USFD test of the track is due on April 27 as the automatic test of railway tracks is done every two months.

Track fracture is either caused by poor maintenance or there can also be man-made factors which can be termed as “extraneous” or “sabotage”.

Besides, the source said, five trains had passed over the track prior to the ill-fated Rajya Rani Express and the loco pilots of those trains had not reported any unusual occurrence.

The real cause of the derailment will be known only after the completion of the inquiry, but there were indications towards sabotage, the source added.

Eight coaches of the Rajya Rani Express derailed near Rampur in the morning. The mishap occurred two kilometres from Rampur Junction railway station and about 100 metres from the Kosi river bridge, resulting in injuries to passengers and rail traffic disruption.

While according to Rampur police, 15 passengers were injured, three of them seriously, the railways claimed that only two passengers – Amit Katiyar and Megh Singh – were injured.

The railways has ordered an inquiry into the incident and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 each for the injured passengers.

Eight rear coaches of the 22,454 Meerut City-Lucknow Rajya Rani Express derailed near Rampur on Moradabad- Shahjehanpur section of Moradabad division at 8.15 AM.

The spokesperson said the railways has been able to clear one line and the train operation on this line has started, whereas efforts are on to restore the affected line.

The Railways has announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 each for the two passengers who have received injuries in the incident.

The Accident Relief Train and Medical Relief Trains have reached on the spot for relief and first-aid work.

Pramod Kumar, the Divisional Railway Manager of Moradabad division, along with other senior railway officials, have reached the site to supervise the relief work.

The Railways have operationalised helplines at Lucknow, New Delhi, Old Delhi, Nizamuddin, Moradabad and Bareilly to help relatives of affected passengers.

Advanced Fire Detection system for Rajdhani, Humsafar and for the upcoming Tejas Express

Shaken from its slumber by a number of fire accidents on trains, railways will finally introduce an advanced multi-level fire detection and response system in premium trains like Rajdhani Express. In the last 30 years, around 500 people have died in fire-related accidents on trains and have left hundred others injured.

The railways is also planning to equip all air-conditioned coaches used for overnight journey with the early warning fire detection system, sources in railways said. The advanced fire detection system will also be installed in other superior trains like Humsafar and the upcoming Tejas Express.

Senior officials in railways said the national carrier is prioritising safety in train operations over everything else and the decision comes as a result of it. On December 28, 2013, an air-conditioned coach of the Bangaluru City-Hazur Sahib Nanded Express caught fire near Kothacheruvu in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh resulting in the death of at least 26 people and injuring 12 others.

With the advanced system, a train will stop in case of a fire incident as brakes will be applied automatically. If the smoke rises beyond a particular level, announcements will be made and hooter sirens will ring in the affected coaches. The announcement in the affected coaches would inform passengers that the brakes have been applied, and that they should not panic but disembark safely from the coach once the train comes to a complete stop. Besides, all power cars, pantry cars, locomotives of special services would also be equipped with high-pressure, water-mist fire suppression systems to protect the expensive equipment from being burnt in case of a fire.

Early warning of a fire event can prevent panic and loss of life and damage to assets, minimising disruption of services, a senior official said. In the present fire-detection system in trains, the response time is slow, pre-alarms are too late, detection rate in high airflow is poor, and performance gets affected by soot and dust.

In the advanced fire-detection equipment, the central monitoring system will be in the power car. The fire detection system will be connected to the central monitoring system where technical personnel will be stationed. The technical staff is required to investigate if there is actually a case of potential fire in that particular coach. An announcement followed by hooter takes place in the affected coach after a delay of 55 seconds.

A senior railway official explained that the display of the central monitoring system shows all the coaches with unique identification number on its screen along with the alarm status and graphical display of smoke level. In case the smoke level rises in a coach, the flasher light gets activated to alert the technical staff and indicates the coach number which may be affected.

If the smoke level rises further and reaches level 2, the flasher light gets activated in the affected coach and an audio visual alarm at the CMS prompts technical staff to take necessary action. If the smoke level rises further to level 3, the brake application takes place automatically.

Some Train Fire Accidents
  • December 28, 2013 – An air-conditioned coach of the Bangaluru City-Hazur Sahib Nanded express caught fire near Kothacheruvu in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh resulting in the death of at least 26 people and injuring 12 others
  • November 22, 2011 – Howrah – Dehradun Doon Express caught fire in which at least seven people were burnt to death and several others were injured. Around 2 am, coach number B1 of the Dehradun-bound train caught fire. Later, the fire spread to coach B2. Both coaches were badly burnt, but all the casualties were from B1.
  • August 1, 2008 – Gowthami Express supposedly got short-circuited and fire broke out in midnight when the train crossed Kesamudram station in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh. Those wakened by the sounds escaped by pulling the emergency chain to slow down the train, but 40 people lost their lives in this incident.

ISI Agent Shafi Sheikh – prime suspect in major train attacks in India, flees to Pakistan from UAE

Shafi Sheikh, ISI Agent & Islamic Terrorist

NEW DELHI: Mohd. Shafi Sheikh, an ISI agent who played key role in mobilising people in Nepal and India to plant explosives on the railway tracks in Bihar last year, is said to have fled to Pakistan from Dubai, where he had been staying, a senior Home Ministry official said.

Before India and Nepal (where he is wanted in a double murder case) could request the UAE authorities to seek Sheikh’s custody, he had already left for Pakistan.

Sheikh has been on the radar of intelligence agencies for long and has also been accused of pumping in fake currency into India through Nepal from different entry points. He has been instrumental in polluting the minds of villagers in different methods and with fake currency notes, and instigated them in various means to commit crime by planting explosives on the railway tracks in India.

Nepal contact

Shamshul Hoda, a Nepalese businessman who first met the Pakistani national in Malaysia, then in Karachi and on several occasions in Dubai, told a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, which interrogated him in Kathmandu last month, that the latter had asked him to “create mayhem” in India.

The Nepal police had arrested Hoda on his return from Dubai on February 2 for his alleged involvement in the murder of two people, who were initially hired to carry out “spectacular incidents in India.”

While Hoda confirmed that he had been asked by Sheikh to plant explosives at Ghorasan in Motihari, Bihar, on October 1 last year, he told the NIA team that he was unaware of any such plan with regard to the Kanpur and Kuneru railway derailments.

Karachi visit

Hoda has told the Nepal police that he went to Karachi seven months back on Sheikh’s invitation, where he allegedly met three other persons.

“Hoda told us that he was not sure about the association of Shafi [Sheikh] and three others with Pakistan’s ISI but he says he was asked to do something spectacular in India. He says he stayed in a bungalow at Karachi for two days, where he was treated well and asked to rope in his local contacts to create trouble in India,” a Nepal police official said.

The NIA was tasked with investigating the three railway accidents for any terror-related conspiracy after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu shot off a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh alleging “sabotage.”

Mr. Prabhu’s letter was sent after Moti Paswan, one of the three persons arrested by the Bihar police in January for his alleged involvement in planting a pressure cooker bomb at Ghorasan, claimed to have planted the bomb in Kanpur, which led to the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express on November 20, 2016.

However, when an NIA team quizzed him, Paswan said he was only boasting about his involvement. “Bihar police has told us that after Paswan, recently two more people arrested for other criminal offences confessed on their own to have committed the Kanpur accident; we are not sure about the claims and are investigating,” said a senior NIA official.

During an election rally in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh on February 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the Kanpur accident was “a conspiracy and conspirators carried it out sitting across the border.”

However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament on Wednesday that “the Prime Minister did not directly mention ISI’s name in the Kanpur train derailment case” and investigations in three train accidents were yet to be completed by the NIA.

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Major train accident avoided as 44 Peddle Clips found open

SAHEBGANJ: A major train accident was averted in Jharkhand’s Sahebganj (Eastern Railway), as 44 peddles were found open near Balbanna village. The Railway administration was shocked with the scenario. The Investigation Bureau team along with Superintendent of Railway Police visited the spot and are currently probing the case. The bureau has termed it as extremely serious. An FIR has been registered and probe is going on in this regard.

Goods Train derails between Ravli-Kurla – Derailment comes a day after weekly maintenance

MUMBAI: Harbour line services were halted on the Central Railways line after three wagons and brake van of a goods train derailed between Ravli and Kurla here, on down harbour line early on Monday Morning. However, Suburban trains services are running between Kurla and Panvel without any disruption. Railway authorities are clearing the tracks to resume services on the suburban line. No causalities have been reported till now. Further details are awaited.

Three wagons and the brake van of a goods train derailed at Ravli Junction near Wadala station on the Harbour line before Monday dawn as it was crossing from the Mumbai Port Trust territory towards GTB Nagar station on Kurla-bound tracks. The derailment came a day after the regular weekly maintenance block between CST and Chunabhatti stations -covering the accident site -was taken on Sunday . The cause of the failure is suspected to be rail fracture, which can occur because of a maintenance problem, normal wear and tear, and extreme climatic conditions, said officials. “A high-level inquiry should be ordered. It should have members from the railway board. Accountability should be fixed in case the findings reveal negligence,“ said CR’s divisional rail user’s consultative committee member Jitesh Matalia.

The services were suspended from 4.10 am to 8.17 pm between CST and Kurla. Since Harbour doesn’t have a slow as well as a fast corridor, any block on its tracks mean the line is shut down. CR ran shuttle services between Kurla and Panvel, but they took inordinately long. “The trains were overcrowded and it was quite a task to get off at Kurla. It took me almost 1.15 hours to reach Kurla as against normal travel time of 30 minutes,“ said Belapur resident Sanjay Biswas. Asked why it took over 16 ho urs to restart services, an official explained: “The derailed wagons had to be emptied before they could be cleared. The brake-van was re-railed at 5.50 pm.Thereafter, the Over Head Equipment (OHE) wire had to restored before the route was declared fit to run regular services.“

The tracks too had to be checked and restored. The long suspension of normal services triggered chaos due to overcrowding at Kurla as CR had allowed Harbour line passengers to use main line trains to CST and vice-versa. CR had to deploy senior officials at Kurla along with a heavy contingent of Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel to ensure the overcrowding did not lead to stampede during the peak hours. “It took me almost 10 minutes to reach from the East side of the foot overbridge to the West side because of the crowds,“ said Kurla resident Sachin Rane. Panvel commuter Ashwini Patade said, “There was so much overcrowding that one commuter had to get off at Chembur as she felt short of breath due to lack of oxygen.“ Of the 75 lakh commuters in the city , nearly 1215 lakh travel by Harbour line, and the numbers have grown by 10% per annum.

Derailment of Coaches causes delay in Departure of Trains in Thiruvananthapuram Division

Four empty coaches of Kanniyakumari-Howrah Express derailed while being shunted at Nagercoil station on Friday night.

Following this, the train was rescheduled to depart at 12 noon on Saturday instead of the scheduled departure of 7.50 a.m., Kanniyakumari-Mumbai Jayanthi Janata Express at 10 a.m. instead of 6.40 a.m. and Nagercoil-Coimbatore Passenger at 2 p.m. instead of 7.15 a.m. Chennai-bound Guruvayoor Express skipped Nagercoil Junction and was operated via Nagercoil Town station. The Kanniyakumari Express from Chennai arrived at 7.40 a.m. instead of 6.30 a.m. Similarly, Ananthapuri Express proceeding to Thiruvananthapuram also reached Nagercoil an hour behind schedule.

The derailed coaches were put back on the tracks by 4 a.m. on Saturday. Two cranes from Thiruvananthapuram were brought for the purpose.

Kanniyakumari District Rail Users Association president S.R. Sreeram said that lack of proper maintenance of tracks and inadequate ballast caused frequent derailments in this section.

As Kanniyakumari station lacked even basic facilities, rakes of all terminating trains were brought back to Nagercoil for maintenance. Kanniyakumari should be made a railway terminal with all facilities, including full-fledged watering, cleaning, mechanical and electrical maintenance. If these facilities were there, many problems could be solved, Mr. Sreeram said.

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CID hands over Kuneru Rail Accident Case to NIA

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Andhra Pradesh government has handed over the investigation into the rail accident at Kuneru in Vizianagaram to the National Investigation Authority (NIA).

According to sources, the development happened a couple of days ago. “CID officials have sent fractured rails and other objects found at the scene of the accident to the forensic laboratory at Hyderabad. They later handed over the investigation findings to the NIA,” they said.

On January 21, 40 passengers were killed and several injured when seven coaches and the engine of 18448 Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed near Kuneru railway station.

The Union home ministry had ordered a probe by the NIA, while the state government had asked the CID to conduct its enquiry. Initially, railway officials too had not ruled out sabotage by Maoists.

The CID team did not find any evidence of involvement of naxals or particles of explosive material at the mishap site. However, they had sent the fractured rails and other material collected at the accident spot to the forensic lab. A five-member team of the NIA had also visited the accident spot and interacted with the injured persons two days after the mishap.

“On orders of the home ministry, the case was transferred to the NIA. As off now, there is no evidence of naxal involvement in the mishap. If they wish to do it, they would have struck at any place from Rayagada to Kuneru and not at the railway station. The rails are not easy to cut. You can do it only with gas cutters and it would not be possible to do so near the station with a railway employee being always present at the signalling cabin and the platform being so close,” a senior official of CID said.

Unusual Activities reported in Train Mishaps: Railway Minister in the Parliament

NEW DELHI: Government today expressed serious concern over “unusual” activites reported in the past few days, alleging that attempts were made to sabotage rail tracks and carry out explosions.

Responding to a series of supplementaries in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said there had been seven “blast attempts” and three cases of attempted sabotage. He said the NIA is already investigating a case related to the derailment of a train near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

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There have been “unsual” activities in the last few days and some incidents were averted due to the alertness of railway personnel, the Minister said during Question Hour.

He said countries including Japan, South Korea and Italy had sent their teams after the recent derailments, “thanks to the diplomatic skills of the Prime Minister.” The Railways was now in the process of putting in place latest technology like ultrasonic track detection system to find out fractures so that early warning can prevent mishaps.

Besides technology, Prabhu said the Railway Protection Force has been asked to evolve a forensic strategy.

In his written reply, the minister said train accidents have declined from 195 in 2006-07 to 135 in 2014-15 and further to 107 in 2015-16.

Number of “consequential” train accidents remained at a level of 95 during 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Accidents per million train kilometres, an important index of safety, has come down from 0.23 in 2006-07 to 0.11 in 2014-15 and further to 0.10 in 2015-16.

Negate possibility of Victims of Train Accidents and their Families being duped by Middlemen: Rail Tribunal

Rail tribunal steps in to fast-track relief payment to victims of derailments and train accidents.

NEW DELHI: The Railway Claims Tribunal Principal Bench in New Delhi has taken suo motu cognizance of three major derailments recently in Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and filed cases for claims in a first such order.

Departing from established norms, it has ordered its zonal benches to register cases, where the claimants live instead of piling up cases on local benches under whose jurisdiction the accidents have taken place. The order has paved way for immediate release of compensation by setting an upper limit of six weeks for hearings. As per records, the process of realisation of claims usually takes up to four years, thanks to legal tangles.

But after this order, all that the local benches now need to do is verify that a claimant appearing before it is the same person mentioned in the official accident report, a job that should not take more than one hearing. According to the Tribunal, the Railways has identified all the victims.

The Tribunal has cut out the need for lawyers and legal processes by asking local benches to help applicants free of cost. As a result, the process of trials and recording of oral evidences will now be done away with.

The order was conveyed to the Railway Ministry earlier this week for compliance.

As many as 150 people had died in a rail accident near Kanpur. Over 60 people were injured in another accident near Allahabad. In a derailment near Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh, nearly 40 people were killed and 30 injured.

The Tribunal passed the order to negate possibility of victims and their families being duped by middlemen. In certain cases, even lawyers, according to information with the Tribunal, dupe or harass claimants by unnecessarily delaying cases. This is because from the date of the filing of a claim, Railways counts six per cent interest over and above the compensation amount.

Currently, the Railways gives Rs 8 lakh to families of each deceased and those who have suffered permanent disability. Those with other kinds of injuries are paid lower amounts. “The date of hearing shall be fixed not later than six weeks from the date of issue of notices and on being served, the additional registrar/assistant, registrar of the respective benches shall themselves offer assistance to the applicants….,” the order said.

A racket of lawyers and middlemen often dupe victims and families by delaying the process for years. As a result, the Railways is used to giving out hefty interests.

Major Railway accident averted! Gangman runs 450 Meters to stop Passenger Train from running through cracked track

Averting another major Railway accident in the country, a railway gang-man ran about 450 meters to stop a train after he noticed a 25 mm crack on the Ratmal-Ajmer railway track near Manan Kheda.

RATLAM: Averting another major Railway accident in the country, a railway gang-man ran about 450 meters to stop a train after he noticed a 25 mm crack on the Ratlam-Ajmer railway track near Manan Kheda. According to a report by Naidunia, the railway gang-man, identified as Arjun Meena managed to stop the Ratlam-Jamuna Bridge passenger train 50 meters away from the crack.

Reportedly, the passenger train, which departed from the Dhodhar station on Wednesday, was delayed by 20 minutes, when emergency plates were placed on the railway track. The train then departed for Mandsaur. Primarily confused after noticing the crack on the track, gang-man Arjun Meena ran 450 meters to alert the driver, thereby averting another major railway accident in the country.

Days back, in a major incidence of Railway accident in the country, fourteen coaches of the Patna-Indore Express was derailed in Pukharayan town, 60 km from Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur. The railway mishap, took place around 3 AM in the morning, claimed the lives of at least 150, leaving behind several more with serious injuries.

Days after the Kanpur train derailment, another major railway accident in the country, has been averted in Maharashtra, on January 26, as timely action by the driver near Divya Railway station has stopped the Jan Shatabdi Express from going over a disrepair railway track. The Madgaon-bound Janshatabdi Express, carrying 700 passengers was delayed by fifteen minutes because of the stoppage. Central railway authorities suspect that it is a case of sabotage. General Manager D.K Sharma confirmed such a possibility and said a probe has been ordered. Loco pilots applied emergency brakes in the nick of time.

NIA finds Merit in Bihar Police probe pointing to ISI-backed Plot to Sabotage Railway Tracks

Shafi Shaikh, Karachi-based don and Shamshul Huda, a native of Nepal, currently settled in Dubai are behind train accidents in India: confirms NIA

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing three cases involving an attempt to blast tracks in East Champaran, the Indore-Patna Express derailment and last week’s Koneru rail accident, has prima facie found to be correct the Bihar police’s line of investigation pointing to an ISI-backed sabotage plot to cause train mishaps in India. The agency feels the ISI angle merits further probe.

Sources in NIA told that the three accused arrested in Motihari, during their recent questioning by NIA sleuths, have repeated their claims of a sabotage angle in both the failed Ghorasahan track blasting attempt as well as the Kanpur derailment. “There are no contradictions whatsoever in what they had told the Bihar police earlier and now our own sleuths. They seem to be very sure of and consistent in their ‘disclosures’. Also, technical evidence points to conversations between the arrested accused on the one hand and Nepalese handler Brij Kishore Giri, Dubai-based mastermind Shamsul Huda and Karachi-based suspected ISI agent Shafi Shaikh on the other, lending credence to the ISI involvement theory,” said a home ministry officer.

Sources following the investigation told that Umashankar Patel, one of the three accused arrested by Bihar police, had spoken to both Huda and Shaikh while they were together in Dubai in August, after being put in touch with them by Giri. “They discussed conspiracy to cause train accidents in India by planting IEDs on the tracks. The discussion was general in nature and did not raise any specific mention of the impending sabotage plans for Ghorasahan or Kanpur,” said an officer.

“That they were in direct touch with Huda as well as an alleged Karachi-based kingpin having links with ISI, has led NIA to strongly suspect an ISI angle to the alleged sabotage involving passenger trains in India,” the officer said.

With the probe into Ghorasahan sabotage attempt as well as the Kanpur train derailment now formally with NIA, its teams will be seeking custody of the accused, Patel, Motilal Paswan and Mukesh Yadav as well others arrested in Delhi, for exhaustive questioning as well as recreation of the events leading to the said incidents. This will involve taking the accused to the Kanpur derailment site and establishing the sequence of events leading to planting of the alleged pressure cooker bomb, corroborating their journey details, establishing any money trail of payments for execution of the conspiracy and digging out technical evidence, including their mobile network details, to prove their presence at the derailment site before the incident.

Though an NIA team has already inspected the site of the latest train accident at Koneru in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, it is yet to submit its report on the findings. “We are not risking a guess on a likely sabotage angle. Let us wait for the initial report,” said a home ministry officer.

NIA, as part of its Ghorasahan as well as Kanpur derailment probe, will seek access to the accused arrested by the Nepal police, including handler Brij Kishore Giri, for questioning. The agency may need to initiate proceedings for their extradition to face interrogation and trial in India. “This might be a time-consuming process,” said an officer.

NIA also plans to seek custody of Shamsul Huda and Karachi-based ISI link Shafi Shaikh during the course of its investigation.

Railways escape Four more mishaps at Malda, Dhanbad, Mumbai and Hajipur Divisions

Sabotage attempts on tracks to derail trains continue to plague the Indian Railways with detection of four more such cases in just two days causing serious concern for safety of rail operation. On the eve of India’s Republic Day, four Train mishaps were averted near (1) Diva in Mumbai Division; (2) between Koderma-Maheshpur in Dhanbad Division, 3) between Bariarpur-Ratanour in Malda Division and (4) Near Hajipur in Bihar.

New Delhi: Sabotage attempts on tracks to derail trains continue to plague the Railways with detection of three more such cases today causing serious concern for safety of rail operation and narrow escape of major accidents.

Cases of man-made obstructions were discovered at Malda and Dhanbad divisions by alert railway staff in time, thereby averting major derailments, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

According to the official, the loco pilot of a passenger train detected fish plates missing between Koderma and Maheshpur under Nawalshahi police station and stopped the train averting accident at Dhanbad division.

Rail traffic was stopped for three hours and an FIR has been lodged in the matter.

In the second incident, fittings were found missing on the track between Bariarpur and Ratanour in Malda division.

After the detection, train movement was stopped and it was resumed only after the replacement of fittings, he said adding an FIR has also been lodged in the matter.

In another incident, a major mishap was averted on January 24 after an alert Jan Shatabdi Express loco pilot stopped the train spotting a 15-feet rail piece on the track near Diwa in Mumbai. Central railway authorities suspect that it is a case of sabotage. General Manager D.K Sharma confirmed such a possibility and said a probe has been ordered

On January 23, another possible train accident was averted at Hajipur in Bihar due to an alert patrolling team of the Railways. Two stone slabs that were placed on the track were detected in time and removed. Attempt to sabotage railway tracks averted but goons escaped – the incident came to light when two patrolmen came across two long stone slabs, measuring one meter each, on the UP line track. When they tried to remove the slabs they were set upon by the goons who had placed them on the railway track.

Any laxity on part of Railway staff would have led to major accident due to sabotage on railway track. However the same was averted at 00:20 am of 24 Jan while two patrolmen were carrying out patrolling of railway track between Dalsighsarai and Sathajagat in Samastipur district. It was during the patrolling that they found two long stone slabs, measuring one meter each, on the UP line track on minor bridge number 20 between the two station.  The Railway patrolmen identifying the stone slabs were trying to remove the stone slabs when around 3 to 4 people, who were hiding in the nearby bushes, came out and started abusing them. When the goons started assaulting them, both the patrolmen fled from the spot and informed the nearby RPF post, GRP and local police.

Soon they returned to the spot with engineering staffs, RPF, GRP and local police at 01:22 am and the stone slabs were removed by 01:44 am. During this time period, movement of 13420 Muzaffarpur-Bhagalpur Intercity was disrupted. The goons who were involved in the incident managed to escape.

Loco drivers of Jan Shatabdi Express noticed a lengthy iron rail lying horizontally on tracks near Diva Railway station

Central intelligence agencies have been roped in to investigate the incident in which a long piece of rail was found lying on the tracks between Diva and Mumbra railway stations. A major tragedy was averted on Tuesday (January 24) when drivers  of an express train applied emergency brakes after noticing a rail piece lying horizontally on the tracks.

“Railway employees saved so many lives due to their alertness and now it is in the hands of the investigating agencies to find out who was behind this. We are hoping that it will be found out soon,” Central Railway General Manager DK Shama said.

In the last 24 hours many people who live and work in the area have been questioned though investigators did not confirm if they have any leads as of now.  The area where the incident took place is uninhabited and the nearest habited village Agasan is over a kilometre away.

“GRP and RPF teams have been questioning people around the area to get more information. We have also informed central intelligence agencies and I am co-ordinating with all teams to see if we can get anything substantial on this,”Atul Shrivastav, Chief Security Commissioner, Central Railway, said.

“Investigations are being done keeping all possible angles in consideration, it could be sabotage or mischief. Whatever it is, it can be found out only when the perpetrators are caught. We are hoping we will get some lead soon,” added GRP Commissioner Niket Kaushik.

WHAT HAPPENED ON JANUARY 24

12052 Jan Shatabdi Express started from Madgaon on Tuesday at 2.30 pm and was to reach Mumbai at around 11pm.

Just when the train was approaching Diva station loco pilot Harendra Kumar, who was at the command, spotted a long rail piece lying on the tracks. He applied emergency brakes averting a major accident saving lives of nearly 700 passengers. Kumar and his colleagues were later rewarded for their alertness.

Alarmed by these incidents, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has already sought a NIA probe into the recent spate of derailments suspecting sabotage.

Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed has also cited 45 such cases involving outside interference on the track affecting train movement and causing loss of lives and revenue.

Taking note of the spurt in derailments Chairman Railway Board AK Mital had said on Monday “There is a substantial increase in the derailment case this year as compared against the same period last year and it is a serious concern for us.”

Thirty-nine people were killed after nine coaches of the Hirakhand Express derailed near Kuneru station in Andhra Pradesh on January 21.

In November 20 last year, 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express had derailed near Kanpur killing 151 people followed by the derailment of the Sealdah-Ajmer Express on December 28 near Rura station that left more than 50 passengers injured.

While this saga continues, South Eastern Railway formed a 4-Member Enquiry Team to probe into the detachment of Anand Vihar-Bhubaneswar Weekly Superfast Express’ engine from its bogies in Rourkela. 

According to reports, the team, comprising four officials of Chakradharpur Railway Division, has been formed by the South Eastern Railways to investigate into the incident.

Notably, Railway officials initial probe hinted that the engine of the train accidentally got separated from the bogies and went ahead for about 2 kms near Birajapalli, 10-15 minutes after the super fast express left Rourkela Railway Station on January 24. The engine was later drove back and linked with the bogies after the train driver realised about the detachment. However, ECoR officials said that the engine might got separated due to faulty connection of the engine with the bogies.

Former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi talks about sabotage angle in Andhra tratin tragedy.

In an interview to news media, former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi talks about the sabotage angle in train accidents in the country. Speaking on the allegation of ‘sabotage’ levelled by Bihar Police and other investigation agencies against Pakistan’s ISI, Trivedi told, I am not very sure whether we should jump into any kind of conclusion without any proper investigation. I trust the capabilities of Indian Railways, Police and NIA, he added.

Member-Traffic suspects Sabotage behind recent Train Derailments

Suresh Prabhu asks Rajnath Singh for NIA probe into recent train accidents

NEW DELHI: A day after Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking National Investigation Agency (NIA) probes into the recent train derailments, Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohammed Jamshed said on Wednesday 45 derailments in the current fiscal could have been “sabotage” cases. Jamshed while admitting that the incidents of derailments have increased in the financial year of 2016-2017 as compared to last year, further stated that “there has been a marked increase in derailments in recent weeks and the sabotage angle cannot be ruled out. Fish plates on tracks have been found to be removed and large pieces of rail have been placed at certain locations”, Jamshed said.

The Railways has suffered an estimated loss of Rs 900 crore in freight and passenger revenues on account of factors such as derailments, public agitation (on tracks), or postponements/cancellations because of foggy weather, Jamshed said.

He also said that safety campaigns and extensive monitoring is being done to avoid any further tragedies and intensive inspections have also been launched. He also added that inputs from teams Japanese and Korean teams are being taken.

In his letter of January 23, the Railway Minister had listed six incidents of “possible criminal interference by outsiders”, mentioning the Hirakhand Express derailment in Andhra Pradesh and the incident involving the Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur.

In a post on the micro-blogging site Twitter, Prabhu has “requested all to be extra vigilant to foil nefarious designs of these anti-people elements trying to subvert system”. He has also directed Railway Security personnel to be careful and sought cooperation of the public to give information of any unusual activities by anti-national elements near stations to law enforcement agencies.

Concerned by recent cases of train derailments, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking an NIA probe into the alleged possibilities of rail track sabotage by “outsiders”, officials said on Wednesday.

According to a railway ministry official, Prabhu wrote to Singh on Tuesday requesting him to order a detailed probe by National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the recent cases of train accidents.

An other senior railway official requesting anonymity told that Prabhu “listed six recent incidents hinting of possibility of the criminal interference by some outsiders”.  The official also further stated that “Rail network in the Sub-continent region comprises of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh which belongs to the same age.  However accidents are more frequent only in India than that Pakistan and Bangladesh.  This clearly states something fishy in the entire sequences; so how can one ascribed the such a ghastly accidents to ageing of Railway tracks or neglect of Railway employees? reiterating all accidents to sabotage angle by the anti-national elements.

The official further said, the Railway Minister also mentioned the recent Hirakhand Express which derailed near Kuneru station in Andhra Pradesh, in which at least 41 persons died and over 60 injured on January 22.

Detection of a pressure neatly sealed pressure cooker bomb on the railway track at the outer signal of Ghorasahan railway station on Raxaul- Darbhanga section

“The minister mentioned about the two goods train derailment earlier this month, instance of a cooker bomb at Ghorasahan station, detection of deep cuts on tracks near Kanpur on January 1 and the obstruction on tracks on a rail bridge between Sathajagat and Dalsinghsarai railway stations near Samastipur in Bihar,” the official added.

In the last four months, three major train accidents occurred due to derailment.

On November 20, 2016, at least 149 people were killed and over 300 injured when 14 coaches of the Patna-Indore derailed near Pukhrayan, 50 km from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

In another incident, on December 28, at least two people were killed when the 15 coaches of the Sealdah-Ajmer express derailed near Rura station in Kanpur.

The senior official also highlighted concerted efforts being made by railways to make train operations more safe. “Gangmen and RPF personnel are now jointly carrying out night patrolling. Railway officials are asked to be present in each train to examine and ensure safety of passengers and train movement,” he said, adding that a month-long safety drive was also launched from January 15.

The Railway Zone that saw 18 derailments in 3 years gives Clean Chit to Railway Staff

Primary inquiry into the Hirakhand Express mishap gives Clean Chit to Railway Staff

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Hirakhand Express derailment in Kuneru is the biggest mishap in the Waltair division of East Coast Railway (ECoR) since its inception on April 1, 2003.

The commission of railway safety under the Union ministry of civil aviation began its preliminary inquiry into the Hirakhand Express mishap on Monday. Ram Kripal, commissioner of the wing for the southern circle, arrived here from Secunderabad, visited the accident spot and interacted with eyewitnesses and railway officials.

“Based on preliminary feed back from railway staff at Rayagada and Kuneru stations, the team came to the conclusion that the derailment was not the mistake of railway staff. However, the team will conduct a few more exercises to identify the actual reason. Kripal is slated to hold one more meeting with officials in Visakhapatnam at 10.30 am on Tuesday,” a railway source told.

Meanwhile, train services in the Rayagada-Vizianagaram section has been restored. The track was fit for traffic by 4.25 am on Monday.

ECoR’s jurisdiction spreads over Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Until Saturday’s accident, the biggest mishap in the zone was the derailment of Coromandel Express (Howrah-Chennai) near Jaipur road in Odisha in February 2009. As many as 14 coaches had derailed, killing 15 passengers.

According to ECoR officials, 18 derailments have occurred in the zone since April 2014, including eight in Vizag’s Waltair division. “The derailments occurred due to various reasons, including Maoist attack. In the Waltair division, more than 70% derailments occurred in isolated places like the Kotthavalasa-Kirandul railway line. The fault of railway staff is minimal,” said a senior official.

However, when the media visited the Rammurthipanthulapeta Railway Gate at Kancharapalem on Monday , it found fish-plates missing from the track on the ChennaiHowrah main railway Line. The fish-plates were lying nearly two feet away from the railway tracks. A fish-plate joins two rail logs, each of which is 13 metres in length.

When brought this to the notice of authorities, a railway official admitted, “If the fish-plate is not fixed at the joint, it should be taken seriously. They can prevent the intensity of mishaps in case the joint gets damaged.”

Dawood link in Kanpur Train tragedy noticed

NEW DELHI: For the past three days, intelligence agencies and Delhi Police’s Special Cell are trying to find a Delhi link to the Kanpur railway accident that killed 150 people in November 2016.

Three men — Zia-ul-Haq, Shoaib and Zubair — are being grilled at the cell’s headquarters at Lodhi Colony in south Delhi for the train accident that was supposedly orchestrated by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI, sources told. The detained trio live in Jama Masjid area and work with travel agencies.

Police suspect that two of the men were involved in a conspiracy to blow up the railway tracks and cause mass casualties. They may be arrested late on Thursday.

Two handlers of the accused men have also been identified as Shamshul Hoda, who is based in Dubai, and Brij Kishore Giri, a gangster from Nepal. Hoda deals in fake currency and visas and has links with D Company and ISI. Incidentally, Haq, who was detained at Delhi, is Hoda’s nephew and works as a visa agent.

The agencies had acted on the interrogation report of three criminals — Umashankar Patel, Motilal Paswan and Mukesh Yadav — who were arrested in Motihari, Bihar on charges of killing a man Deepak and his uncle, Anil Ram.

Deepak and Anil Ram had placed a cooker bomb on the railway tracks in Ghorasahan of east Chamaparan, Bihar. The operation had failed as the bomb was detected by villagers and defused. This led to their handlers suspecting that the duo had betrayed them. The three men arrested by Motihari police were sent by Giri to kill them.

Paswan was the one who had made the explosive claim of being involved in the Kanpur accident. He said they were in touch with Hoda and Giri for funds and infrastructure to carry out the attack. They also confessed to having chopped off Deepak and Anil Ram’s head and sending photographs to Giri and Hoda as proof.

Giri, who received funds from Hoda, had allegedly given Rs 3 lakh to Patel, Paswan and Yadav for the task and promised flats, vehicles and help in producing a Bhojpuri movie. Giri and his two aides, Shambhu and Mujahir Ansari, was later arrested by Nepal Police after an encounter. Giri is in a critical condition as he was shot at least four times in the face-off.

Non-maintenance of Tracks led to Mishap?

Kuneru (Vizianagaram): The railway network from K Singpur in Odisha to Parvathipuram in Andhra Pradesh appears to be no one’s child. This “loop line” is neglected and officials do not bother to maintain the railway track. It is feared that poor maintenance may have led to the derailment of Hirakhand Express train. The track was electrified about a year ago. But power supply has not yet been provided. Only diesel engines are used to haul the trains now. Waltair Divisional Railway Manager Chandralekha Mukherjee said, “Traction sub-station is not yet ready. Recently, two traction sub-stations were opened. But respective state governments have not provided power connection.”

Stringent Action against Guilty in Hirakhand Express Mishap: Suresh Prabhu

Bhubaneswar: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said “stringent action” will be taken against those found responsible for the derailment of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express today which has killed at least 39 people.

“The cause of the accident will be probed. It is an unfortunate incident. Stringent action will be taken against those found responsible,” Prabhu told reporters after meeting the injured passengers from the train at Rayagada district headquarters hospital.

“Those responsible for the derailment will not be spared. Stringent action will be taken against those who played with the lives of so many people,” he said.

Prabhu, who was accompanied by Railway Board chairman A K Mittal and other senior officials, also visited the accident site near Kuneru railway station in Andhra Pradesh bodering Odisha.

Senior Railway officials said efforts are on to clear and restore the affected tracks at the earliest to ensure normal traffic on the route.

“Men and machinery are working on a war footing to remove the derailed bogies and set the track fit. Normal train services are likely to be resumed on the route by early tomorrow morning,” they said.

Meanwhile, Odisha Chief Secretary A P Padhi along with DGP K B Singh and Health Secretary P K Meherda met the injured passengers admitted at Rayagada government hospital.

While 19 seriously injured passengers are under treatment at Rayagada, 13 others have suffered minor injury. Twelve passengers have been rushed to a hospital in Parvathipuram, while nine seriously injured ones have been admitted at the Vishakhapatanam hospital.

“The state government has provided all support to the Railways in the rescue operation. The Railways has its own procedure for investigation into such type of accidents. It is a sad incident where 39 people have died and over 100 others were injured,” Padhi said.

Most of the bodies have been identified and handed over to their families, he said adding Odisha government is committed to ensure proper treatment for injured passengers.

Track Restoration works in full swing near Accident site

Visakhapatnam: Track restoration work is in full swing at Kuneru Railway Station in Komarada mandal, where Hirakhand Express from Junagarh Road to Bhubaneswar derailed at 11.10 p.m. on Saturday.

On Sunday, there was a continuous flow of curious onlookers from neighbouring Odisha and Komarada mandals, posing a tough time for the railway police. However, damaged compartments were being shifted with the help of cranes.

Among the visitors were Visakhapatnam MP K. Haribabu, former Railway Minister Bhakta Charan Das, AP State Rural Development Minister Kimidi Mrunalini, Parvathipuram MLA B. Chiranjeevulu, MLC D. Jagadeeswara Rao, and District Collector Vivek Yadav.

Mr. Haribabu said that the government would order a third party inquiry into the issue to ensure transparency as officials detected a deep cut crack on the track.

Such an inquiry would able to ascertain whether it was a sabotage or not.

Incidentally, the crack was detected very close to the Kuneru railway outer cabin.

DRM Chandralekha Mukherjee also visited the scene.

According to on-duty station master of Kuneru Railway Station D. Krishna Rao, the train was speeding at 70 kmph on the main track while a goods train was stationed on the loop track. Mr. Rao said that he heard a loud noise and cries of passengers at the level-crossing gate at 11.10 p.m. on Saturday.

Political parties slam Railway Ministry after Hirakhand Express tragedy

BHUBANESWAR: Political parties and passengers on Sunday slammed the Centre over poor railway safety measures following Saturday’s fatal train derailment near Kenuru station in Andhra Pradesh near Odisha border that killed at least 36 passengers. The Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express rammed into a stationary goods train on the parallel track after derailment.

“We squarely blame the railway ministry for the tragedy, though we deeply mourn the deaths of passengers. The Centre dreams of launching bullet trains and boasts of initiating modernisation measures in railways. But the ministry has all along neglected the safety of passengers. Over 400 people died in train mishaps in the country within a year,” ruling BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said. BJD said the party will demand the Centre to give more emphasis on passenger safety in the ensuing budget.

Opposition Congress was equally vocal. “Rise in train accidents in the country is a major cause for concern. The Centre should accord top priority to railway safety,” tweeted Congress state president Prasad Harichandan. Harichandan said the ex-gratia compensation should be enhanced to Rs.10 lakh for dead, Rs 2 lakh for critically injured and Rs1 lakh for injured, respectively.

Senior Congress MLA and leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra said the railways should not just sit quiet by suspending a few officers for the tragedy. “To appease the common public, the ministry always orders a probe by commissioner of railway safety. But nobody knows about the findings of the previous inquiry reports. People of the country have the right to know about the exact cause of accidents and remedies undertaken by the railways to avoid recurrence of the accidents,” Mishra said.

Passengers, who were jittery after the tragedy, expressed their anger on Indian Railways for the spurt in accidents. Many people vented their ire via social media. “We need safe rail travels than luxury. The railways should improve signalling systems and regularly inspect tracks. Introduction of more number of trains and better connectivity is as necessary as strengthening safety mechanisms,” said Rahul Agarwal, a businessman.

It was often seen, negligence by railways had led to a series of accidents in Odisha in the past. Railway sources said over 70 persons died in separate train accidents in the state in the past eight years. While the Hirakhand tragedy is the worst accident reported so far in Odisha, at least 16 passengers were killed on February 13, 2009 when 13 bogies of the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express from Howrah derailed while changing tracks in Jajpur district.

On September 29, 2016, Bhubaneswar-Bhadrak DMU rammed into a stationery goods train at Kathajodi station in Cuttack, causing deaths of two GRP officials and leaving many others injured. On September 1, 2011, a fatal collision between two goods trains in Keonjhar district killed five loco pilots of the two freight trains.

At least 40 killed, dozens injured after train derails near Kuneru in Visakhapatanam Division of ECOR

Officials Say at Least 40 Killed, and over 50 injured after Train derails on the East Coast India. Sabotage angle not ruled out..

Kuneru (KNRT), Visakhapatnam Division/ECOR: Two general coaches and four sleeper bogies of Bhubaneswar-bound Train No.18448 Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed at Kuneru railway station between Rayagada-Vizianagram section of Waltair Division of East Coast Railway (about 30 km from Rayagada) in the Vizianagaram district on Saturday midnight. According to reports, at least 40 persons are feared dead and over 50 are injured as the train jumped the rails. Meanwhile, special relief van and medical teams have rushed to the spot to take up relief operations. Senior railway officials led by Divisional Railway Manager Chandralekha Mukherjee, left for the spot immediately to supervise the relief operations.

Chief Public Relations Officer of East Cost Railway JP Mishra said the incident took place around 11 PM when the train was going to Bhubaneswar. He said, four accident relief vans have been sent to the accident site. He said, the reason behind the incident is yet to be ascertained. Meanwhile, Railway Ministry sources have told that the element of sabotage has not been ruled out yet.

The number of casualties are likely to go up as the train was running at high speed while crossing Kuneru station where it had no stoppage. The injured have been shifted to hospitals at Parbatipuram and Rayagada. A team of doctors have reached the accident site. Vijayanagaram and Rayagada District Administration are taking active part in rescue operations. Several trains on Vijayanagaram and Rayagada routes have been diverted.

These are Rayagada 06856-223400, 06856-223500, 09439741181, 09439741071 and 07681878777. Help line nos at Vizianagaram are 08922-221202 and 08922-221206.

Indian Railways spokesperson Anil Saxena on Sunday said, that any unusual activity or tampering with the railway tracks leading to the derailment of the Hirakhand Express, will be investigated, and also informed that a unit of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been sent on the spot for rescue operation.

“Total 54 people have been injured, those with minor injuries have been sent after first aid. Efforts are on for rescue. One unit of National Disaster Response Force has reached the spot. The Up and down line between Vijayanagaram-Singhpur has been affected. The cause will be investigated from all angles. If there was any unusual activity, or tampering with track, it will be probed. Commissioner Railway Safety (Civil Aviation Ministry) will enquire into Hirakhand Express derailment and he will inspect site,” Saxena told.

Saxena further said their main aim is to make the people reach their destinations, adding that the unaffected portion of the train has been taken to Raigoda, from where it has been diverted to Bhubaneswar.

“Water containers, biscuits and teas are being supplied to the people. They can also talk to their families through phones which are made them available,” he added.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announces profound grief; announces Rs 2 lakh for kin of deceased towards immediate relief

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday while expressing deep shock and grief, announced rupees two lakh as compensation for the kin of deceased in the horrific Hirakhand express derailment in Andhra Pradesh last night, which claimed the lives of 40 people.

He also announced 25,000 rupees for the injured and 50,000 rupees for the seriously injured. At least 40 people were killed and more than 50 injured when coaches of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express derailed near Kuneru station in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh last night.

Prabhu, along with Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal, is rushing to the derailment site in Andhra.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is personally monitoring situation. He has directed senior officials to reach site and ensure prompt rescue and relief operations. Railway has issued helpline numbers.

Meanwhile, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik expresses grief over the tragic death Of 30 Passengers.

Commissioner, Railway Safety Of Civil Aviation Ministry To Probe Into Hirakhand Express Derailment, Says Anil Saxena, ADG, PR, Railway

Train Cancelled /  Diverted Due to Derailment of Hirakhand Express

Meanwhile, South Central Railway announced cancellation/route-diversion of certain trains in view of the derailment of Train No. 18448 Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express at Kuneru between Rayagada-Vizianagram section of Waltair Division, East Coast Railway, the following more train is cancelled / diverted as detailed below:-

Trains Cancelled/Partially Cancelled on 22nd January, 2017

  • Train No.18518 Visakhapatnam- Korba Express Scheduled to depart Visakhapatnam On01.17 is Cancelled.
  • Train No. 18309 Sambalpur-H.S.Nanded Nagavali Express scheduled to depart Sambalpur on 22nd January, 2017 is cancelled.
  • Train No. 12651 Madurai-H.Nizamuddin Tamilnadu Sampartk Kranti Express scheduled to depart Madurai on 22nd January, 2017 is cancelled.
  • Train No. 17615 Kacheguda-Madurai Weekly Express departed Kacheguda on 21st January, 2017 will be short terminated at Dindigul station.
  • Train No. 57271 Vijayawada – Rayagada Passenger departed Vijayawada on 21st January, 2017 will be short terminated at Visakhapatnam station.

Train Diverted

  • Train No. 13352 Alleppey-Dhanbad scheduled which left Alleppey on 21.01.17 is diverted to run via Vizianagaram, Palasa, Angul, Sambalpur.
  • Train No. 18310 H.S.Nanded-Sambalpur Nagavali Express departed H.S.Nanded on 21st January, 2017 is diverted via Khurda Road and Angul stations.
  • Train No. 12375 Chennai Central – Asansol Superfast Express departed Chennai Central on 21st January, 2017 is diverted via Khurda Road, Angul and Jharsuguda stations.
  • Train No. 18637 Hatia-Yesvantpur Express departed Hatia on 21st January, 2017 is diverted via Titlagarh, Raipur, Nagpur and Balharshah stations.
  • Train No. 13351 Dhanbad-Alappuzha Express departed Dhanbad on 21st January, 2017 is diverted via Titlagarh, Raipur, Nagpur and Balharshah stations.

‘Lucky enough to be alive’: Train survivors recall brush with death

Survivors of the Hirakhand Express mishap on Sunday recounted their horrific experience when the trains nine bogies and the engine jumped off the track near Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh.

“It was horrific and frightening. I was among the lucky ones to have escaped narrowly after the mishap that struck late last night,” said Ranjan Mohanty, a Baripada college
principal.

Mohanty, who was returning in the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express train after attending the wedding ceremony of a relative, said he was sleeping and woke up with a sudden jerk and deafening sound to find himself on the floor.

While the derailment claimed at least 39 lives, the passengers, Mohanty said, travelling in his coach escaped with minor injuries and fractures.

However, the adjacent S-9 coach was perhaps one of the worst affected, Mohanty said, adding he was among the survivors who were sent by a special train to Bhubaneswar via Sambalpur from where he would proceed to Baripada.

Similar was the experience of Prakash Sahu, a youth who failed to figure out as to what exactly had happened when a loud bang woke him up from deep sleep and he was flung from the berth.

Sahu said he along with some fellow passengers managed to move out of the coach with much difficulty and to comprehend what had happened.

“We are lucky enough to be alive though our belongings, mobile phones and other articles were lost,” he said.

For little girl Sai Suchitra, who suffered injuries and was taken to Rayagada hospital, it was a nightmare.

Suchitra said she was travelling with her mother and other family members when the train derailed. She was extremely worried about her mother and others as there was no information available about them immediately.

Bhagban Majhi, a youth who left with a fractured limb after the mishap, said it was pitch dark and he could only hear screams of injured passengers and wailing relatives who lost their dear ones.

It took some time for the rescue teams to reach the mishap site.

Another youth who travelled by the special train to Bhubaneswar via Sambalpur after the derailment said there was panic among the passengers and the whole area was filled with cries of accident victims.

“After we moved out of our coach, we could see the devastating effect of the derailment. Bodies could be seen in the severely mangled coaches,” he said, adding that passengers of unaffected bogies also tried to help those trapped in derailed coaches but darkness was a major hurdle before rescue teams arrived at the scene.

Among the survivors was a couple travelling to Bhubaneswar from Bhawanipatna to attend a marriage function.

Sanjay and his wife Jhili were about to sleep after dinner when there was loud sound and the bogie jolted violently and luggage of passengers fell scattered all around.

Those unhurt in the mishap made efforts to pull out the children and women, said Sanjay.

Railways deploy special buses for stranded passengers

With train movement paralysed between Rayagada and Vizianagaram, the Railways on Sunday deployed 13 special buses to transport stranded passengers to places such as Brahmapur and Bhawanipatna of Odisha, a railway spokesman said.

One passenger special train with 13 coaches carrying the stranded passengers of 18448 Jagdalpur-Jungarah Road-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express was run from Kuneru to Bhubaneswar via Rayagada-Titilagarh-Sambalpur-Angul.

The spokesman told The Hindu that nearly 600 passengers were shifted in the special passenger train and special buses.

Following the derailment of the train, the East Coast Railway announced cancellation of seven trains. Seven more trains were short terminated and 10 diverted.

North Central Railway working on pilot project to avert train accidents

Allahabad: In order to overcome the problem of rail fractures during winters to prevent train accidents, North Central Railways is working on a pilot project at Bamrauli station under Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Allahabad.

“At present patrol-man is able to cover only 1 km of rail line for checking rail fractures. However, line rail monitoring system would locate the fracture in a span of 25 km,” GM Arun Kumar Saxena said.

The system would help in reducing accidents as rail fractures would be found earlier, he said, adding he carried out an inspection from Rundhi station to Mathura junction to check for security, punctuality and passenger amenities.

The work of the fourth line between Rundhi and Palwal would be completed by March end, he said.

“Fourth line, when completed, would not only reduce traffic congestion but would pave way for separate corridor for Kota as well as for Jhansi,” Saxena said.

He said third line between Mathura and Jhansi has been given a green signal and funds have also been made available for Rail Vikas Nigam Limited.

He said two lifts and an escalator have been introduced. Wi-fi facility has been launched at Mathura junction station and remodelling of the yard there is in progress.

“The efforts are on to connect platform 7 and 8 side of the area of the yard with the main yard,” he concluded.

He also took note of the suggestion that Chapra Express and Jaipur Express between Lucknow and Mathura junction should be run on different days instead of the same day as it would also boost revenue.

“Since it falls in other railways, a suggestion for changing timing and days of the aforesaid trains would be sent to the GM concerned,” he said.

DRM Agra Prabhas Kumar said technical knowledge is being given to employees for the new system.

“Gyan Sagar has been introduced for uplifting knowledge of technical and non-technical staff,” he said.

NIA asks Home Ministry to transfer Kanpur train tragedy case

NIA to probe recovery of IED near railway track in Bihar’s Ghosaran. Man claims knowledge of Republic Day plot to sabotage Indian Railways tracks

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) demanding that the case surrounding the Kanpur train tragedy be handed over to it for further probe.

The Delhi Police had earlier this month picked up two people from Bihar in connection with the train derailment, which took place in Kanpur on November 21 last year. The Bihar Police has claimed that derailment was planned and funded by anti-India elements based in Dubai.

So far, three have been arrested for planting a bomb on railway tracks in the state on October 1, 2016.

The Home Ministry had on Wednesday sent a two-member NIA team to Motihari for investigation into the Bihar Police’s claims that the derailment of Indore-Patna Express was carried out at by a Nepal gang that has links with Pakistani intelligence agency ISI.

The claims were reportedly based on disclosures by three arrested men.

Investigative agencies are also currently interrogating a man who claims to have been trained to sabotage railway tracks with the aim of causing train accidents on January 26.  A man who is currently being interrogated by several investigative agencies, claims to have knowledge of plans to sabotage railway tracks between Patna and Allahabad with the goal of causing train accidents. The informant, a resident of Jonpur in Uttar Pradesh, claims he was trained and promised money to carry out the sabotage.

WHAT THE INFORMANT HAS CLAIMED
  1. A man named Suresh, whose surname the informant does not know, trained the informant and his friends, Sujit and Shankar, in taking out keys and joints from railway tracks. This would cause the tracks to break and lead to accidents when trains passed over the sabotaged sections.
  2. Suresh was to pay the trio Rs 70,000 to 80,000 each for doing this work.
  3. Tempted by the offer of hard cash, the informant underwent the training in Varanasi where he says he met two men named Vinod and Santosh.
  4. Vinod and Santosh had carried out a similar operation of damaging the railway tracks near the Kanpur railway station for which Suresh had paid them 70,000 rupees. (Editor’s note: It’s not yet clear if this claim is related to the November 20 Patna derailment that claimed over 140 lives.)
  5. The informant ran away after two days of training and after realizing the dangerous extent of Suresh’s plans.

HOW THE INFORMANT’S CLAIMS CAME TO LIGHT

From Varanasi, the information came to Mumbai where he narrated his tale to the station master at the Dadar railway station. The official, the informant says, only made a note of the his claims and informed counterparts in Varanasi. It’s not known what happened of this communication.

The informant then went to Mumbai’s Kurla area in search of job. Once there, he informed a local BJP worker and railway passenger activist Subhash Gupta about Suresh’s plans. It was Gupta who took the informant to the Railway Protection Force. The RPF recorded the informant’s statement, following which several other agencies joined the probe.

“We have written to the home ministry seeking transfer of probe into the Ghorasahan incident. We will look into all claims made by the accused,” said NIA official in their annual briefing.

The Nepal police is also helping the Indian agencies in the probe as three more associates of the arrested trio have been nabbed there in a twin murder case.

Kanpur Train Tragedy is a Terror Plot: clarifies Bihar Police

PATNA: ISI plotted big attacks on vulnerable Indian Railways. Bihar police zero in on Pakistan’s ISI hand behind Kanpur train tragedy to target railways and cause huge damage and loss of lives. The investigation revealed that the suspects have the support from ISI with financial backing from a Dubai-based businessman.

The railways have been a target of terror groups several times in the past. A recent investigation conducted by the Bihar Police and Interpol now got a thorough clue that the accident was a sabotage that was a plan to blow up a train in East Champaran or cause derailment of a speeding train by damaging the tracks.

Bihar police on Tuesday claimed to have unearthed a suspected ISI link to target the railways with arrest of three persons in East Champaran district of the state. The report emerged after the arrest of three persons suspected of planting an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on a railway track near Ghorasahan railway station+ in October last year.

Police claimed the trio had confessed to having worked for a Nepalese contact suspected to be connected to Pakistan’s ISI to target the railways. The bomb was defused after alert villagers spotted it and called the cops in.

This investigation is very crucial as it could give more clues to investigators probing into mystery train accidents. There have been over 11 train accidents in 2016. While the cause of the accident has been ascertained in most cases, the one at Kanpur in November 2016 in which 150 lost their lives continues to be a mystery. We do not want to add a conspiracy theory to the accident, but since a terror link is identified in the wake of the revelations made by the Delhi police, the investigation had a clue now; an official associated with the Railways informed.

During interrogation, police claimed that “the accused were given Rs 3 lakh by a Nepali citizen allegedly connected with the ISI for planting a bomb to blow the railway track at Ghorasahan in East Champaran district in October 1 last year to cause an accident. A probe is currently underway to find their links with the Kanpur train accident,” SP Jitendra Rana told.

The police also claimed that they will interrogate the trio to ascertain if the gang had any role in train accidents in Kanpur that claimed the lives of at least 140 people and injured many others, on November 20, 2016.

While the three accused were arrested from East Champaran district, three others have been nabbed at Tailaya in Nepal for targeting railways on behalf of suspected terror elements in this country, Rana added. Security agencies have been informed about the confession made by the three men, who are “professional criminals” allegedly involved in more than a dozen criminal cases.

They’re being further interrogated for more details to determine if the they had any role in train accidents in Kanpur and elsewhere. At least 150 people were killed and over 100 injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhrayan in Kanpur Dehat district in November 2016.

Initial reports overlooked terror angle and investigated rail fracture due to expansion of the track in summer and contraction in winter as the likely cause of the mishap which now proved to be wrong.

Rana said the anti-terrorism squad and other security agencies have been informed about the confession made by the three men who are being interrogated for more details to ascertain if the gang had any role in train accidents in Kanpur and elsewhere. 150 people were killed in the derailment of Indore-Patna Express at Kanpur Dehat in November last year.

East Champaran is a district bordering Nepal and Indian Mujahideen chief Yasin Bhatkal was arrested from Raxaul in the district in August 2013.

Railways vulnerable to terror:

In this context, one must go back to the 2006 Mumbai train bombings. 180 people died in that deadly blast which ripped through the trains in Mumbai in a span of 11 minutes. While this was the biggest terror attack on the Indian railways, there have been several other incidents on a smaller scale. In 2016, there was a mystery bomber who sought to send out a message to the security establishment. The Panipat-Ambala passenger train was attacked twice in 2016. While the first incident occurred in January, the second one was in May. In both incidents a low intensity bomb was planted in one of the bogeys. The blast was a minor one, but it went on to reveal how poor the security was in the Indian railways.

Terror groups would look to target the railways for a variety of reasons. First, the railway stations are crowded and this makes the impact extremely high. Second, the security is very low and this makes the railways a potential target. In the past as well, the naxalites have meddled with the railway tracks to cause train accident. It is practically impossible to man the entire railway line which spreads of several lakhs of kilometres. The Chennai train blast of 2014 is also a classic example of how lax security is. The members of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India had boarded the train in Bengaluru with explosives and timed it to go off at the Chennai railway station.

One person died in that incident. The SIMI members assembled the bomb in the wash room of the train. This means that they passed through every possible security check, if any, undetected.

Many in the police force do not prefer being posted in the Railway Protection Force. They feel that it is a punishment posting or the challenge in the job is not good enough. There have also been complaints that members of this force are not professional investigators and this has also caused a lot of problems. The biggest problem is the lack of personnel in the force which have led to complaints of over load of work. In addition to incidents in railway stations, the Railway Protection Force also has the task of manning and protecting the assets of the railways.

After 3 derailments in less than 2 months, Railways ropes in International Experts to fix Kanpur-Lucknow stretch

New Delhi: After three derailments within less than two months, the Indian Railways has roped in international experts to fix its Kanpur-Lucknow stretch.

The Indian Railways has roped in international experts to fix its Kanpur-Lucknow stretch that has witnessed a clutch of train wrecks, even as police hinted on Tuesday that Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI may have instigated a November crash that claimed more than 150 lives.

Initial investigations have found damaged tracks that led to three derailments in less than two months in the same section. A six-member team of experts from South Korea began probing the incidents on Tuesday and will inspect the spot on Wednesday.

Last week, Japanese experts had conducted a similar inspection of the site where the Indore-Patna express train went off the rails on November 20. Railway experts from Italy will meet Indian Railways officials next month while the railway ministry is also in talks with French experts to carry out a probe.

“The South Korean delegation met top railway ministry officials where they were briefed about the facts related to the accident. Korean experts will carry out ultrasonic flaw detection test on the Kanpur-Lucknow section on Wednesday,” a senior railway ministry official told.

India’s extensive rail network runs 12,000 trains a day and the full-length track could circle the globe over one and a half times. More than 23 million passengers travel on it every day on journeys that extend from one end of the country to another. But the network has a poor safety record, with thousands of people dying in accidents every year, including in train derailments and collisions.

While initial probe by the railways have hinted sabotage, experts are also examining if the derailments were caused due to track fracture. The railway ministry has already sought a CBI inquiry into the crashes after an internal probe report said the fishplate was missing from the tracks at the site of the November 20 derailment.

“During track-patrolling, trackmen Sanjeev Kumar and Ramraj found 50 elastic rail clips and three pairs of fishplates removed from the railway track between Kalyanpur and Mandhana railway stations of Farrukhabad-Kanpur Anwarganj section. Many cuts by a hacksaw were also found on the track,” the report said.

The country recorded 27,581 railway deaths in 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, with most victims falling from, or being struck by, moving trains.

Railway ministry will allocate Rs 2,000 crore for track maintenance and safety in the upcoming budget. An official said the railways plans to procure ultrasonic-flaw detection machines for minute scanning of the tracks. The machine, being used in countries such as Japan, Spain and China, employs ultrasonic waves to detect if there is any fracture or physical obstruction on the tracks.

The Indian Railways spends over Rs.55,000 crore annually on safety, but its share on track maintenance has been abysmally low. Sources said the organisation allocated merely Rs.60 crore for safety of tracks in 2012-13 and Rs 287 crore in the next fiscal year. In 2014-15, no money was earmarked for this purpose.

However, the Narendra Modi government increased the expenditure on track safety to Rs 1,200 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 1,508 crore in 2016-17. The railways has nearly 1.3 lakh kilometres of tracks across the country.

Korean team visits Rura Railway station to Investigate cause of Sealdah-Ajmer express accident

KANPUR: An expert team from South Korea visited the Rura railway station on Tuesday to investigate the cause of derailment of Sealdah-Ajmer express which had occurred on December 28 last year, leaving 62 passengers injured. The team which comprised of six experts, first inspected the accident spot and also did videography of the site and the mangled remains of the coaches. They even took measurement of the broken tracks and closely observed the signal system at the railway station.

The team, after collecting the evidences, also spoke to the railway officials and staff including section engineers and tried gathering more details into the accident. The sources also stated that this expert team may also visit Pukhrayan in Kanpur Dehat where Indore-Rajendra Nagar Patna express had derailed on November 20 last year, killing 152 passengers and leaving 300 passengers injured. It had turned out to be one of the deadliest train accidents in the past five years.

The railways termed the investigation by the Korean team as ‘audit by third party’.

Though the cause of the accident would be concluded by the Korean team later, sources stated that the track fracture could be the reason for the Sealdah-Ajmer express to derail. A team of IIT-Kanpur experts which had visited Rura soon after the derailment incident had concluded that the track fracture was the most probable reason for Sealdah-Ajmer express to derail.

Chief Public Relations Officer, North Central Railway, Bijay Kumar said that the Korean team had come to Rura railway station to carry out audit of the accident site, tracks and the mangled remains of the coaches. This expert team had been sent by the Railway ministry and they would be submitting their report with the ministry after completing their investigation, he added. “This was ‘audit by third party’ which the railways get done to know about lapses if any.”

Train no. 12987 Sealdah-Ajmer Express went off the tracks between Rura and Metha railway stations, about 50kms from Kanpur. During the accident, 15 coaches of the train derailed and left more than 60 people injured.

Three Accidents near Kanpur in 2 months were Sabotage Activities: CBI

Two men were spotted cutting railway tracks past midnight on December 31 near Kothi village in Mandhana. Both managed to escape on noticing the patrolling team. Damaged railway tracks near Kanpur raises red flags over recent train accidents in UP. Detailed investigation by CBI will explain the reason behind three major train accidents in last two months near Kanpur.

KANPUR: CBI had prima facie noted that the three accidents in and around Kanpur city in the last 2 months are perfectly handled sabotage activities which Indian Railways has been wrongly attributing to the wreckage of Rail track.

Patrolling team of Railways had finally noticed that there were repeated sabotage attempts by unidentified persons on the Kanpur of RPF The CBI, on Friday, began its investigation into the case of fish plates and elastic clips spotted missing on Farrukhabad railway track in Mandhana on the city outskirts a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Lucknow on January 2.

Two men were spotted cutting railway tracks past midnight on December 31 near Kothi village in Mandhana. Both managed to escape on noticing the patrolling team. The railways had requested the CBI to conduct an inquiry into the incident considering it to be a case of suspected sabotage. A CBI team along with senior RPF officials including DIG Railways reached Mandhana. They spoke to the railway staff and gathered evidences.  CBI also requested Railways to hand over the Enquiry/Investigation Reports of all the three accidents near Kanpur in the last two months which toold toll of nearly 200 lives. Railways yet to submit the report copies to CBI.

Sabotages on the Rise: On December 28 Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailment near Rura Railway Station and January 12 goods train derailment near Unnao in UP, besides the ghastly Pukhrayan case which took toll of more than 160 passengers.  Almost all these accidents took place only past mid-nights.

The railway staff told the CBI team that as many as 30 pedal clips had been opened.Had the patrolling team not noticed the missing pedals and attempt being made to cut the track, a major accident could have been possible.

Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), NER, Sanjay Yadav said the railway board on Thursday had confirmed CBI investigation into the incident. Meanwhile, the work of route restoration on Kanpur-Lucknow route near Sehjani four km from Shuklaganj railway station in Unnao continued. A goods train derailed here on Thursday evening.

AK Mittal, Chairman Railway Board, who was also in Kanpur today, reviewed the accident spot in Pukhrayan where Indore-Patna Express derailed on November 20, which claimed more than 150 lives and left many injured.  While talking to mediapersons after inspection, he said that only a detailed investigation will explain the reason behind three major train accidents in last two months near Kanpur.

He was referring to December 28 Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailment near Rura Railway Station and January 12 goods train derailment near Unnao in UP, besides the Pukhrayan case.

Alert youths in UP help avoid train accident

A group of youngsters helped avert a train accident on Sunday night by alerting railway linemen after they spotted suspicious activity on the tracks near Mandhana-Naramau area, on the Kanpur-Farrukhabad rail section. According to locals, some youngsters who were passing by the railway track noticed about five miscreants trying to cut the track after removing nearly 50 pandrol clips and three pairs of fishplate. They raised an alarm and rushed to the spot immediately , but the miscreants managed to flee.The locals then alerted the linemen, who in turn informed senior railway authorities and halted all trains passing through the area.

Toll in derailment near Kanpur touches 146; No tampering with the tracks as speculated earlier: Railways

accident-coach-kanpurKanpur: An FIR was registered on Monday against unknown railway personnel for Sunday’s accident near Kanpur, even as the death toll in the massive derailment climbed to 146.

So far, 137 bodies have been identified, post-mortem conducted on 133 and 131 handed over to families, District Magistrate (Kanpur Dehat) Ravi Kant Singh told. The administration has arranged 74 vehicles to help relatives transport the bodies to their destinations free of cost. Sixty-four persons are still under treatment in various hospitals, a police spokesperson said. Over 200 were injured in the accident.

Fourteen bogies of the Patna-bound Indore-Rajendranagar Express went off the tracks near Kanpur Dehat in the early hours of Sunday, in one of the worst railway accidents in recent years.

Cause of derailment not yet known

Railway officials are yet to pinpoint a prima facie cause for the massive derailment even as Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered a high-level probe, promising “strictest possible action against the guilty.”

A separate investigation involving technical and forensic analysis by an appropriate agency would also take place to look into all possible angles, said Mr. Prabhu, who had visited the accident site on Sunday.

P.K Acharya, Commissioner, Railway Safety, Eastern Circle, Kolkata, started the statutory enquiry into the accident, even as the North Central Railways has sought help from the public to provide accounts. While a rail fracture could have been the cause of the accident, S.K. Agarwal, DRM Jhansi division, on Sunday hinted that there was no tampering with the tracks as speculated. The CRC probe will make it clear, he said.

FIR filed

“Unknown Railway personnel” were booked under Sections 337 and 378 (causing hurt/causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety), and 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code for the derailment.

Sections 151 (damage to or destruction of certain railway properties) and 154 of Railways Act (endangering safety of persons travelling by railway by rash or negligent act or omission) were also invoked, a police spokesperson said. “A terrorist or explosive angle has not come into light in the accident,” a press statement from the DGP’s headquarters here said.

The intensive rescue operation jointly undertaken by the State police, Railway officials, Army jawans, five teams of the NDRF and local volunteers, concluded on Monday evening. DGP Javeed Ahmed, who inspected the site, ordered an FIR in the accident, which was then registered at the GRP thana Bhimsen.

Of the dead identified so far, 68 persons were from U.P., 28 from M.P., 31 from Bihar, two from Maharashtra and one from Jharkhand. Two separate FIRs were lodged for missing persons. The NDRF said it had rescued 55 persons and extricated 74 bodies.

Railways vows to replace older Coaches after tragedy

80% of railway coaches unsafe. While the aged and less technologically advanced ICF coaches make up the bulk of the Indian Railways’ fleet; the shortage of 1.3 lakh staff under Safety category as on date add up to the worrying safety performance of Indian Railways!

accident-coachNew Delhi: Shaken from its slumber by the worst train accident in six years, the Railways has promised to step up production of modern Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) coaches to replace old Integral Coach Factory (ICF) designed coaches and to resist the temptation of announcing new trains on overburdened routes.

While Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu yesterday announced “strictest possible action” against the guilty, and a thorough probe aided by the latest technical and forensic analysis into Sunday’s train accident near Kanpur, in which over 140 people were killed, he said said that the exercise to replace old coaches lacking crash-worthy features announced in the Railway Budget will also be expedited.

To be fair to the railways, the number of consequential train accidents has declined in recent years. An index used for measuring safety performance is the number of train accidents per million train kilometres. This figure has come down from 0.14 in 2010-11 to 0.09 in 2015-16. Although statistically the performance has improved, the public perception about railway safety is decided by the horrific images and loss of lives in a single accident, such as the one in Pukhrayan. However, the replacement of overaged assets must be an ongoing process. It is possible that the arrears of overaged assets requiring replacement have again begun to accumulate. The safety performance of the railways during the first six months of current financial year to the end of September is also worrying. The number of derailments during the period has been 46 as compared to 31 during the corresponding period of the previous year. There have also been four collisions, while there were none last year. The trend must be arrested.

A major factor in declining accident numbers was the decision taken by the previous NDA government in creating a Special Railway Safety Fund of Rs17,000 crore, through which over a seven-year period overaged railway assets were upgraded and replaced. This included rolling stock, signalling, track and electrical assets. The funds were well targeted, expenditure carefully monitored and performance improved.

The toll could have been much lesser had the Railways completely switched over to the manufacture of LHB coaches – which do not pile up unlike the earlier coaches in case of an accident -as suggested by the Anil Kakodkar panel on railway safety in 2012.

And that is where the government could be faced with a huge problem: over 80% of passenger trains in the country use the ‘old’ Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches. The Integral Coach Factory, located near Perambur, near Chennai, is one of the railways’ main coach production facilities. The coaches are made of mild steel (a less ductile material, heavier than stainless steel) which is less effective in protecting occupants in the event of a collision.

Making a suo moto statement yesterday, Prabhu said that old technology coaches lack the crash-worthy characteristics of modern coaches. “I had informed this House during the previous Railway Budget that such coaches will be progressively replaced and phased out. This will be expedited,” he said.

The Railway Board, which on Monday reviewed the safety of rail network and operations, also decided to increase the usage of ultrasonic flaw detection devices which are capable of data logging, saving and transferring scan to computers with the aim of improving the quality of rails and welds on tracks.

Poor track maintenance including lack of proper fittings and ballast on the rail lines caused fractures which seems to have been among the causes contributing to the accident according to initial findings.

Rail tracks have deteriorated as the Railways is running more and heavier trains to raise higher revenues.

The board decided to go for integrated planning of maintenance schedules which at present is done by different departments such as civil engineering, signal and telecom and electrical at different times which has resulted in delays and disruption of traffic.

The transporter has ignored Kakodkar panel’s suggestions that ICF coaches are a serious safety risk and its manufacturing must stop immediately. The panel had proposed funds to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore for complete switching over to LHB production in five years.

Even on Monday , the board chose not to immediately stop manufacturing of ICF coaches, but decided that new coaches will be fitted with a coupler which will have anticlimbing features and old ICF coaches will be retrofitted with this couplers.

The decision, which came after a tragedy of such magnitude, reflects on the Railways’ poor finances and lack of political will to manage funds for enhancing safety.

The Railways plan to replace the existing compartments on passenger trains with Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches. At the moment the Indian Railways only has around 10,000 LHB coaches out of a total of 60,000 passenger coaches. LHB coaches, which cost over Rs 2 crore, are safer and more crashworthy than ICF coaches. The coaches, which are made of stainless steel, are also equipped with disc brakes as opposed to ICF coaches that have a threadbrake system, which impacts their stopping distance. They can absorb the shock and impact of derailment more effectively than ICF compartments and, as a result, do not topple, thus reducing the loss of lives in case of an accident. The coupling system on LHB coaches reduces the relative motion between two compartments and also prevents one coach from ‘rising’ on the other in case of a mishap. LHBs also have better suspension, ride quality, significantly larger windows and sound reduction.

According to experts, LHB coaches are safer as compared to ICF coaches. “If we were to talk about this recent mishap, LHB coaches would have significantly reduced the number of casualties, ” said Subodh Jain, a former member (engineering) of the Railway Board and former general manager, Central Railway. Another former official said that replacing the coaches could take as much as eight to ten years.

The Railways had imported a set of coaches from Linke-Hoffman-Busch (now a part of Alstom) for testing and use in India in the late 1990s, and LHB coaches became popular once a few glitches were ironed out. Today, they are manufactured at the Rail Coach Factory, in Kapurthala, under a Transfer of Technology agreement.

The number of people India loses to train accidents every year could be directly linked to the huge shortage of frontline employees in the “safety category” of the Indian Railways — 1.27 lakh such posts remain vacant as of 2016.

The safety employees, who include trackmen, pointmen, patrolmen, technicians and station masters among others, are directly responsible for the safe running of our trains. And, this crippling shortage of the key force on the ground, experts and unions opine, imperils the lives of passengers.

This has also resulted in the overworking of existing workers, almost all of whom are toiling more than 15 hours a day — leaving enough room for mistakes that could result in grave incidents like the one on Sunday, which claimed more than 100 lives.

The railways, which has been more than enthusiastic in spending on ‘designer uniforms’ and other branding exercises, has exhibited nothing but apathy when it comes to filling up safety posts.

As of 2013, the number of such vacancies was 1.42 lakh and in three years, that has only reduced by about 19,500. According to information accessed from the ministry of railways, the national carrier has an overall shortage of 2.17 lakh employees. Of this, 56% or 1.27 lakh are in the safety category.

All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) general secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra said, “Where we need three patrolmen, we don’t even have one.”

A trackman, for example, says, “I work a 12-13 hour shift on any given day, and more in case somebody takes ill or on days of high maintenance. On an average any trackman needs to carry about 15-17 kg of equipment and we have to work whether it is raining or it is 42 degrees. We have no respite from harsh conditions and the least we hope is that the vacancies are filled up so that we at least get the deserved rest.”

Among the 18 railway divisions, the most such vacancies are in the northern division (14,442), followed by east central (10,034), south eastern (9,967) and central (9,910). The north central division, under whose jurisdiction Sunday’s tragedy occurred has a shortage of 9,223 safety employees.

Pointing out that the pressure is immense, a loco pilot, who did not want to be named, said, “Depending on the route and division, a locopilot could be driving continuously for 8-13 hours. The shortage affects us because we are all humans, we become sick, we get tired, and then mistakes can happen. When we have lives of so many people in our hands, you must understand the kind on pressure we work under.”

While the Railways officially maintains that it accords the highest priority to safety with measures like “replacement of overaged assets, adoption of suitable technologies for upgradation and maintenance of track, rolling stock, signaling and interlocking systems et al,” union members say that the sheer lack of people to implement all these is what is resulting in accidents.

A redeeming feature in this accident was the relief and rescue effort where different agencies such as the railway teams, state government authorities, the NDRF and police appear to have responded early and worked in close coordination.

However, this can be little consolation to families who have lost their near and dear ones.

FinMin’s go-slow attitude on Rail Safety Fund puts passengers at risk

The Indian Railways has more than 68,000 km of tracks, about 12,800 trains and carry 24 million passengers a day. This wide reach in itself is the biggest concern for the ministry as a single flaw or an act of negligence or a sabotage could turn a train travel into a death ride.

Since Suresh Prabhu took charge as the minister of railways, he had given an additional emphasis on safety and stressed on a Rs 1,19,183 crore safety fund called the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh. However, the move has not got the finance ministry’s approval, and this, among others, has become a roadblock in removing the carrier’s safety bottlenecks. In addition to this, staff shortage of 0.12 million and the state of finances are also causes of concern for the Indian Railways.

Sunday’s accident in Kanpur district has again raised questions on the safety of rail passengers, bringing under the spotlight the corrective measures that have not been taken.

Of the accidents that the railways suffer annually, 87% are due to human failure — 44% due to the failure of railway staff and 43% due to the failure of others. 2% of the mishaps are due to equipment failure, 2% due to sabotage, 6% due to incidental factors and 3% are under investigation on labelled as causes could not be established.

Railway officials said a bulk of the accidents every year was due to the 6,000 un-manned level crossings. This has made critics stress that staff strength was a major cause of concern. “Of the 0.12 million vacant positions in the railways, 75% pertain to jobs ensuring safety. The government should fill up these vacancies as soon as possible,” tweeted Congress functionary Ahmed Patel, soon after the accident.

“The railways has a lot of safety issues,” Congress leader C P Joshi, who was railway minister for a brief stint under the United Progressive Alliance government, said. “Rather than looking for more speed, the government should take safety as an important priority, as accidents are increasing. There isn’t enough money to invest on safety aspects, like looking into the wear and tear of tracks. There is a question on whether track maintenance was done properly in this case. Can our tracks sustain the heavy load due to an increase in the number of goods trains?”

The railways had decided to increase the average speed of passenger trains by 5 km an hour every year and to run freight trains with 25-tonne axle load. These, experts said, should happen with strengthening of tracks and bridges and upgrading of the signalling system. The tracks now might not be able to take this load, they added.

Critics said the finance ministry’s go-slow mode with regard to the safety fund was affecting the railways. Out of the Rs 1,19,183 crore asked by the rail ministry for the safety fund, the finance ministry said it would fund Rs 1,11,683 crore. “Identified safety related works are related to track works, bridge rehabilitation, safety works at level crossings, replacement and improvement of signalling systems, improvement and upgrade of rolling stock, replacement of electrical assets and human resource development,” said Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha last week.

To add to that, the financial situation of the national carrier has worsened over the years, because of which the maintenance budget has also been affected, said Shanti Narayan, former member (traffic) of the Railway Board. “The political decision over the years to not go for a passenger fare hike is affecting the railways badly. It is suffering a loss of more than Rs 30,000 crore a year because of this.”

A high-level committee led by Anil Kakodkar had come out with a report on railway safety in February 2012 detailing 106 recommendations, covering safety, organisational structure and others. Sixty-eight recommendations were fully accepted, 19 partially accepted and 19 not accepted by the Ministry of Railways. So far, 22 recommendations of the committee have been implemented and 20 were in the final stages of implementation.

“It is this delay in implementation of these suggestions and the go-slow attitude on the safety fund that are leading to loss of lives,” said a former railway official, requesting anonymity.

Only 30% of eTicket buyers opted for Railway Insurance

128 passengers on ill-fated Indore-Patna Express opted for insurance while booking online ticket

irctc-insuranceKanpur: Uncertainity over railway safety in India seems to be an open secret. Out of 694 passengers who booked tickets online for the ill-fated Indore-Patna express, 128 had opted for travel insurance cover that costs less than Rs.1.

The IRCTC website offers passengers the option of availing travel insurance cover at a premium of Rs 0.92.

It is learnt that those travelling on 78 (128 passengers) of the 126 tickets are eligible for the insurance payout. The other passengers who opted for insurance cover were to board the train from Kanpur onwards.

‘The insurance cover of upto Rs 10 lakh can be availed by paying less than Re 1’, is how Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had introduced the scheme in his budget speech. The scheme offers travellers/nominees/legal heirs a compensation of Rs10 lakh in the event of death or total disability, Rs7.5 lakh for partial disability, upto Rs2 lakh for hospitalisation expenses and Rs10,000 for transportation of mortal remains from the place of a train accident or where an untoward incident, including terrorist attack, dacoity, rioting, shootout or arson, occurs.

The IRCTC website offers passengers the option of availing of travel insurance at a premium of 92 paise. The scheme was announced by Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu in his budget speech.

The scheme offers compensation of Rs 10 lakh in the event of death or total disability, Rs 7.5 lakh for partial disability, up to Rs 2 lakh for hospitalisation expenses, and Rs 10,000 for the transportation of a passenger’s mortal remains from the site of accident or any other untoward incident — terrorist attack, dacoity, rioting, or arson.

The facility is available to passengers who book the e-ticket, excluding for suburban trains, irrespective of the class of the ticket. The option to buy the insurance cover is available through a checkbox. “The premium is just 92 paise, so lack of awareness or sheer negligence while booking tickets may be the reason why so many passengers failed to opt for insurance,” an official said.

130 dead, 200 injured as Indore-Patna Express derails near Kanpur

Tragedy at dawn jolts nation; Rescue and relief operations are underway. NDRF teams at spot. Suresh Prabhu visits Lalpur Railway Hospital

indore-patna-expKanpur: At least 130 people were killed and over 200 others injured on Sunday when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna express train derailed near Pukhrayan area in Kanpur Dehat district, with railways officials saying the number of casualties could rise.

The incident took place around 3 am near Pukhrayan. Of the four coaches, S1 and S2 telescoped into each other and most of the casualties were feared to have been in these two compartments. S3 and S4 coaches also suffered severe damage. Though an AC-III tier coach was affected the casualties were not heavy. As railway personnel, assisted by the Army, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the state police carried out search-and-rescue operations, the number of casualties kept on increasing by the hour.

Could it have been averted?  It seems the absence of Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) coaches – the ones used in Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains – is one reason for the high death toll. According to an official, though the Railway Ministry made it clear three years back itself that LHB coaches are a must, the Railways has been reverting to coaches made at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF). LHB coaches, unlike ICF ones, do not climb over each other in the event of an accident as they have more in-built safety features that can absorb shock and the impact of derailment more effectively. As to why the Railways are still using ICF coaches, it is believed that LHB coaches would require redoing of tracks.

Over 200 injured people have been rushed to nearby hospitals in the area. All hospitals have been asked to be alert. More than 40 ambulances are pressed into service, the IG said, adding that over 250 police officials are helping carrying out rescue and relief operations.

indore-patna-exp2Railways Ministry spokesperson Anil Saxena said several people have been rushed to nearby hospitals with injuries, and the casualties may go up.

Accident relief train was rushed to the spot, he said. Northern Central Railways spokesperson Vijay Kumar said that doctors and senior railway officials have reached the spot. Rescue and relief operations were being carried out by district administration and railway officials.

The grim truth is that with the Railways running more trains every year, the chances of more tracks developing fractures cannot be ruled out. The need for track renewal is now imperative if the ministry has any hope of avoiding a similar mishap as that of the Indore-Patna Express train tragedy. Clearly, the frenzy to run more trains and accommodate more passengers has taken a toll.

Though the cause of the derailment was not known immediately, sources said the nature and timing shows that the accident was caused by a rail fracture. However, the exact reason would be known only after an inquiry.

indore-patna-exp3Buses are pressed into service to help passengers complete their journey, Kumar said, adding that the S2 coach was severely damaged. Four AC coaches have also been derailed.

Meanwhile, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered a probe into the train tragedy. Suresh Prabhu reached LLR hospital and met the injured passengers. Prabhu said, direct general health services from Delhi and RPF director general from Delhi have also been called to reach the spot. Earlier, Minister of State for railways Manoj Sinha met the injured and assured them of all help. He said Commissioner Railway Safety (CCRS) PK Acharya will be conducting investigation tand in two days, a preliminary report will come. Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan ralso eached the hospital.

“All rescue relief work on to deal with unfortunate accident. All medical and other help rushed. Enquiry ordered. Situation monitored closely,” Prabhu said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the derailment of the Patna-Indore Express.

indore-patna-exp4“Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families,” he said in a tweet.

The PM said that Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is personally monitoring the situation.

“Prayers with those injured in the tragic train accident. I’ve spoken to @sureshpprabhu, who is personally monitoring the situation closely,” Modi said.

Helpline Numbers:

Indore- 07411072
Ujjain- 07342560906
Ratlam- 074121072
Orai-051621072
Jhansi- 05101072
Pokhraya- 05113270239

indore-patna-exp5

Probe ordered

Meanwhile, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered a probe into the train tragedy. “All rescue relief work on to deal with unfortunate accident. All medical and other help rushed. Enquiry ordered. Situation monitored closely,” Prabhu said in a tweet.

The Union railway ministry on Sunday announced an ex-gratia compensationof Rs 3.5 lakh for the families of those killed after an Indore-Patna express train derailed early morning. A compensation of Rs 50,000 was announced for those injured.

Soon after, the office of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured.

Survivors of the ill- fated Indore-Patna Express thanked the locals who were the first to reach the accident spot in pitch dark.

“We saw death whisk past us,” was the common refrain among the survivors of the ill- fated Indore-Patna Express, with the scenario inside the bogies reflecting the horror they experienced. The interiors of the less-affected coaches also bore hallmarks of the tragedy, with bed sheets, blankets, pillows, half-eaten food, suitcases and bags lying scattered after passengers rushed out in panic when they were jolted out of sleep as the disaster struck just a little after 0300 hrs.

Outside, a 17-year-old girl was seen desperately trying to locate her brother, both of whom were returning to Patna after a swimming competition in Bhopal, accompanied by their mother. In the midst of the devastation, there were stories of individual heroics too, with one rescue worker narrating how he managed to pull out five persons alive, one of them oblivious that her limb had got severed. “I pulled out one old day, who was yet to realise that she had lost one of her legs. One person had blood oozing out of his mouth. And the coach had bodies and blood splattered all across it,” Shakti Singh, a rapid reaction force member, said.

The survivors thanked the locals who were the first to reach the accident spot in pitch dark to find people in daze, still reeling under the sheer impact of the tragedy. Rescue workers had no time to spare as they said that the mangled coaches contained a large number of bodies. “Those alive have been already rescued. All that is left are bodies. We have just managed to clear half of the worst- affected coaches,” a volunteer said, pointing towards a bogie which looked like a metallic coil after the accident.

The army joined the rescue operations, deploying 90 personnel besides a 50-member medical team which included five doctors. Kanpur Station Commander of the army Brig. BM Sharma said: “We have plans to work through the night. We have put up lights. Our teams are already here. Though the railway cranes are working, we have got our armoured recovery vehicle here to speed up the operation.”

He said that the army is in touch with the civil administration and all other agencies, including the NDRF. “All are functioning together,” he said.

Over 115 passengers were killed and more than 200 injured, nearly half of them grievously, in the worst train accident in recent years when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed here in Kanpur rural area. Brig Anurag Chibber said the force personnel were using metal cutters to open up the mangled bogies of the train.

Over 600 kms away, scenes of tragedy also played out at Patna railway station, with relatives of the passengers making frantic attempts to contact their near and dear ones and pleading officials for information. “I have been calling my father, who was returning from Ujjain, since morning. Calls are going through, but he is not picking up,” said Ranjan.

In another corner of the station, the brother of one of the passengers, Ranjan Kumar Singh, begged officials to share some information. “We have not seen a tragedy of this scale ever in our lives. We are still trying to trace five members of our family,” Deepika Tripathi, a passenger, told reporters.

Another passenger said: “We had minor injuries, there was no chance of coming out of the mangled bogie. We somehow managed to escape through the toilet door. All members of my family are safe.”

Tracks take a pounding as Railways runs more trains

The grim truth is that with the Railways running more trains every year, the chances of more tracks developing fractures cannot be ruled out. The need for track renewal is now imperative if the ministry has any hope of avoiding a similar mishap as that of the Indore-Patna Express train tragedy. Clearly, the frenzy to run more trains and accommodate more passengers has taken a toll.

Railway Ministry officials believe that prima facie cause of the accident of the Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur on Sunday could be ‘track fracture’ or in simple words breaking of a track. The grim part is that with Railways running more trains every year, the chances of more tracks developing such fractures cannot be ruled out. The need for track renewal is now imperative, these officials pointed out.

This frenzy to run more trains is also taking a toll on the tracks. “The life of a track is evaluated by something called the Gross Million Tons which is the total weight- of train, passenger, freight- that has gone over the tracks. The maximum weight a track can manage in its entire lifetime is between 550 GMT—if it is 52kg standard rails- or 800 GMT if it is 60kg standard rails. Using a track beyond this limit is an open invitation to disaster,” said a senior Railway official.

Statistics available with the Railway Ministry show that over the last two years, it ran a whopping 70,000 special trains. Moreover, during this period it introduced 308 new trains, extended 99 trains, increased the frequency per week (fpw) of 188 trains and permanently added 1,610 coaches to various trains. The Railways ran a little over 2.5 lakh extra coach trips in the past two years, ministry data shows.

“All this adds berths to our system but also takes a heavy toll on tracks. The result could be track fractures and disasters like the one we are seeing in Kanpur. However, it is too early to say what caused the accident and only a full-level inquiry will tell us the truth,” said an official.

A White Paper on the Railways health released by the government in February 2015 had a worrying fact on the status of track renewals. The report stated that out of the Railway’s total track length of 1,14,907 kms, about 4,500 km of track need to be renewed annually. However, due to financial constraints, the progress in track renewals is constantly coming down over the last six years, the white paper said. Arrears of track renewal are accumulating which will result in disproportionately high maintenance effort. This will also result in reduced reliability of assets, the White Paper noted.

In a statement issued recently, the Railways said that 5,900 km of track renewal had been sanctioned, out of which 2,668 km is targeted for the year 2016-17 itself. Budget outlay in year 2016-17 has been enhanced from Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 7,500 crore to speed up the track renewal works in the country. Accordingly, physical targets have also been increased from 1,500 km to 2,668 km, the statement added.

“As per norms, track renewal works are to be completed within two to three years of sanction,” said an official.

It was in 2001-02 that a Special Railway Safety Fund (SRSF), with a corpus of Rs 17,000 crore was formed on the recommendation of the Railway Safety Review Committee. About 45 per cent of this fund was earmarked for track renewal.

In March this year, while answering a query on track renewal, Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha told Parliament that works of Track Renewal and Upgradation and a host of other activities like bridge rehabilitation and improvement in trains would cost Rs 1,19,183 crore at current price level.

Detection of Bomb on Rail Track in East Champaran triggers panic, kids stop a train

MUZAFFARPUR: Detection of a pressure cooker bomb on the railway track at the outer signal of Ghorasahan railway station on Raxaul- Darbhanga section of the railway on Sunday noon triggered panic in the area and railways authorities and East Champaran district administration officials immediately swung into action. RPF Commandant and Bomb Disposal Squad rushed to Ghorasahan from Muzaffarpur and defused the bomb. The recovery of bomb at pillar number 19 at the outer signal of Ghorasahan railway station in East Champaran district affected movement of trains for hours.

In fact, the children present on the spot stopped a passenger train approaching Ghorasahan railway station by waving their shirts to the loco pilot who stooped the train about a kilometre away from the railway station. Everyone lauded their bravery as they had averted a major train accident. The passenger train was enroute Sitamarhi from Raxaul.

The district administration has sounded alert in the border areas and police were investigation whether it was an act of naxalites or terrorists. It may be mentioned here that maoists had planted can bomb on the railway track between Motihari and Pipra railway stations in 2010 and blew up seven bogies of a goods train.

The East Champaran SP said that the bomb had been defused and railways tracks were safe. He said the normal traffic would resume soon. He aid the bomb pats were being lifted from the spot as exhibits. The SP said that nuts and bolt used for shrapnels indicated it was a typical naxal IED.

Railways can’t blame rooftop travel, state authorities: Apex Court

Step in, be compassionate; don’t blame mishaps on rooftop travel, SC tells Railways

14 youths were killed and several others injured on Monday when they fell from the roof of two speeding trains crammed with job aspirants returning from an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) recruitment camp in Bareilly in UP. The incidents triggered violent protests as angry youths torched a train.
14 youths were killed and several others injured when they fell from the roof of two speeding trains crammed with job aspirants returning from an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) recruitment camp in Bareilly in UP. The incidents triggered violent protests as angry youths torched a train.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the railways should take steps to avoid accidents and ensure the safety of its passengers, instead of trying to shift the blame on rooftop travel or the over bridges constructed by the state or municipal authorities.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Uday Umesh Lalit made the observation while directing the Railways to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of at least 14 job aspirants killed after getting crushed between the train’s rooftop and the ceiling of over bridge in Shahajahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, on February 1, 2011.

Another 20 were seriously injured.The victims were travelling on the rooftop of the Himgiri Express to go back to their home states following cancellation of a recruitment drive of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to be held in Bareilly. The border force suspended the drive as it was unable to handle over 2 lakh aspirants from 11 states who had descended on Bareilly.

Rejecting the railways’ contention that it was not responsible for the accident, the apex court said though the people who travelled on rooftop also contributed to the mishap, the “Railway Administration, in our view, was not free from blame.” The railways should have been aware of the inherent danger in allowing the train to run with such speed having a large number of persons travelling on rooftop, the Bench noted.

The train could be stopped only after it had travelled three kilometres from the accident spot, the Bench noted. The SC also directed the railways to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to every passenger who suffered permanent disability and Rs 75,000 each for those injured grievously.

The railways should set up a committee headed by a senior officer and consisting of at least three other experts with technical knowledge to identify all infringements on the railway tracks such as over bridges constructed either by it or by state or municipal administrations and remove them in the shortest possible time, but not later than two years. The committee should submit status reports to the SC every six months.

The SC also directed the central police organisations to call only limited number of candidates for recruitment drives so that the Bareilly-type incident did not recur.

Ballast Train derailed near Bishramganj

goods train derailsBishramganj:  At a time when the NFR is contemplating to introduce passenger train service upto Udaipur via Agartala, a ballast train on Sunday derailed near Jangalia in Bishalgarh subdivision putting a question mark on the quality of works.

According to sources, the ballast train, which was going to Udaipur, has got stuck on the newly built BG track at Jangalia this afternoon. The mishap caused extensive damage to BG track due to the derailment.

After receiving the information, NFR officials, engineers and workers rushed to the spot and trying hard to clear the track at the earliest. However, the track is yet to be cleared till the report last came in.

When contacted, Superintendent of Police (SP). GRP Jitendra Debbarma confirmed the ballast train derailment near Jangalia in Bishalgarh subdivision on Sunday evening .

“NFR officials are camping there to recover the ballast train”, he said.

According to NFR sources, derailment of ballast train is a common phenomenon after laying of track. “Running of ballast and goods trains is routine process to check the quality of track. Efforts are on to remove the ill-fated ballast train”, said a NFR official tonight.

Meanwhile, the much awaited passenger service from Agartala is likely to commence by end of April.

The NFR, which is supposed to declare the date for commencement of passenger train service at the earliest, is yet to do the same.

Earlier, it was anticipated that the passenger train service would be kicked start from April 14 as the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) had cleared the newly built track for running passenger trains.

Aftermath of defects on tracks in some areas including Panisagar and Dharmanagar, the NFR wants to repair the damaged railway route to ensure foolproof safety.

When contacted, Dy Chief Engineer, who is the in-charge BN Bhaskar has said, “I have no information about the commencement of train service on the newly built track”.

While Chief PRO DC Bora could not be reached tonight, Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik said, “I am out of the state could not provide any update on the commencement of passenger train service”.

The NFR plans to start passenger train service by April 30 after fulfilling all procedures, according to sources.

204 Rail Accidents due to Failure of Staff: Report

Rail Staff lethargicNew Delhi: Over 200 rail accidents out of the total 292 were caused due to failure of railway staff in the last few years with action being taken against 542 employees and penalties imposed in over 500 cases.

As per the findings of inquiry committees including prima-facie causes, out of a total of 292 consequential train accidents, excluding mishaps which occurred at unmanned level crossings, from 2012-13 to January 2016, 204 accidents have been attributed to failure of railway staff, according to Railway Ministry data.

Admitting negligence of railway staff as one of the causes behind many train accidents, a senior Railway Ministry official said, “All consequential train accidents are investigated by Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS). On the basis of these inquiry reports, disciplinary action is taken against the staff found guilty and penalties are imposed on the staff.”

A total of 542 employees have been taken up for disciplinary action and penalties imposed in 528 cases.

The official said safety is accorded the highest priority by railways and all possible steps are undertaken on a continual basis to prevent accidents and to enhance safety.

These include replacement of over-aged assets, adoption of suitable technologies for upgradation and maintenance of track, rolling stock, signalling and interlocking systems and safety drives among others.

He said railways has also adopted new technologies such as train protection warning system (TPWS), train collision avoidance system (TCAS) as a means of automatic train protection on pilot-basis on selected routes.

CAG slams Railways’ on Safety measures; says Delays in Repairs put Lives at Risk

CAG observes Railways not adhering to Railway Board’s instruction for Standardisation of Safety items. CAG also expressed serious concerns on 160% rise in Fire Accidents in passenger coaches

indian-railways-CAGNew Delhi: The federal auditor slammed railways for the delay in sanctioning and completing repair work in old bridges, saying it “posed a threat to human lives.”

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) noted that in 31 out of 102 bridgeworks test checked, railways took on an average 43 months to sanction the bridgeworks after its identification for rehabilitation. There are over 1.36 lakh railway bridges which are an essential part of the Indian Railways network. The existence of a large number of very old bridges identified as due for rehabilitation/ reconstruction is a concern for safe train operations.

The auditor found that there was shortfall in achievement of target in nine zonal railways. There was also under-utilisation of funds to the extent of Rs 60.95 crore on an average per year. The CAG noted that the delay has resulted in operation of train services with speed restrictions. Instances of continued speed restriction were noticed on 87 bridges over 13 zonal railways resulting in extra expenditure of Rs 103.40 crore.

The auditor noted that 96 out of 147 bridges, considered to be prone to brittleness and to be phased-out by end of 2013, are still in existence over five zonal railways. Besides it noticed shortfall in the scheduled inspection of bridges by various levels of inspection authority to the extent of 32.19% which may be a “serious threat” to safety of passengers as the existence of defects of the bridges, if any, may remain unnoticed.

The national auditor also pulled up railways for receiving fake currency notes of the face value of Rs 92.33 lakh during the last five years while reprimanding the transporter for not adhering to the prescribed rules for dealing with such cases.

“The total debits of Rs 92.33 lakh were raised as on July 2014 by banks/cash offices on the selected stations for remitting fake Indian currency notes (FICNs). Though major portion (78.60 per cent) of the debits was made good by the concerned booking staff, the procedure adopted by the railway authorities for dealing with FICNs was not as per the procedures laid down in Cash and Pay Manual of the Railways,” the CAG said.

The CAG, which examined the records for the period from 2010-11 to 2014-15 up to July 2014, cautioned that this led to possibility of re-circulation of fake currency in the open market.

In another report, the CAG found that short circuit, poor maintenance and lack of awareness are major reasons of fire in trains. It also noted that the automatic smoke/fire detection devices in running trains are not properly functional.

The cases of fire accidents in the passenger coaches of Indian Railways jumped 160 per cent between 2012 and 2014 even as they were expected to come down by 80 per cent, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has found.The auditor, in its latest report on Indian Railways tabled in Parliament today, has said short circuit, poor maintenance and lack of awareness are among the major reasons of fire in trains while the automatic smoke and fire detection devices in the running trains are not successfully implemented.

A joint survey conducted by CAG and railway officials found fire prone activities like cigarette smoking, cooking by vendors at stations, carrying of inflammable articles by unauthorised persons, accumulation of empty cardboard boxes and other waste materials were unchecked aggravating the risk of fire.

“Though recommendations are made by high level safety review committee and 12th Five Year Plan for introduction of fire alarm system in coaches for early detection of fire, it has not been successfully implemented,” the report said.

The audit also found a disproportionate revenue sharing formula adopted by the Western Railway and Kutch Railway Company (KRCL) led to undue benefit to the tune of Rs 300 crore to KRCL for the period between July 2006 to March 2014.

The auditor also found Indian Railways could not tap into revenue potential due to delays in construction of private sidings near railways stations. The CAG found in 26 of the 293 private railways sidings, the shortfall in traffic with respect to projects was more than 50 per cent. “No effort was made by railways to review the volume of traffic generated from sidings,” it said.

The CAG also pointed out several issue in the functioning of the Kapurthala Railway Coach factory (RCF). It has delivered only 470 LHB coaches till date leading to the failure of the project aimed at complete switchover to stainless steel coaches by Indian Railways. Also, material worth Rs 31 crore was idling in RCF as the railway board changed the production programme too often.

The report observed that Corporate Safety Plan (CSP) envisaged bringing down the number of accidents by 80% from 2001-02 to 2013 but number of accidents went up by 160% during the period. The loss of human lives in fire accidents in passenger coaches steeply increased from three in 2001-02 to nine in 2011-12, to 32 in 2012-13 and 35 in 2013-14.

Mumbai Local Train rams into Platform Buffer at CST

Mumbai Local rams CSTMumbai: uburban train services along the main line of Central Railway (CR) were affected on Tuesday by a delay of around 20 minutes, after two compartments of a locomotive got derailed at CST.

The incident happened in wee hours of Tuesday, 8 December morning, around 2 am, when an empty locomotive crashed into the buffers at platform number 5 of CST.

“It happened when the local was shunting from the platform. The train rammed into the buffer-heads at the station and dismantled them. The local also uprooted part of the platform, railing and security grills in the process. Two compartments were derailed in the accident,” a senior CR official toldIamin.

A special crane and hauling tools were pressed into action, after which the derailed coaches were cleared by 6 am, taking a toll on the suburban train schedule of CR.

With service suspended from the affected platform, trains at CST were run from the remaining platforms, delaying the local train timetable by 20 minutes.

“There is damage to the track and other equipment on the platform. Thus, services have been shut and regular train operations are run from other platforms,” the official added. He assured that services will back on schedule, after the damage to platform number 5 is repaired.

Meanwhile, commuters suffered the brunt of the incident, as both fast and slow track trains ran behind schedule.

Irked by train delay for the second consecutive delay, commuter Shelby Madanmohan who travels from Mulund to Curry Road by a slow train every day said, “Slow locals were late and over-crowded today. Since the fast trains too were late, the local was even more crowded. Even yesterday, there was a delay due to a rail track fracture along the CST fast line between Kalyan and Diva. The delays are now becoming an almost everyday affair.”

A similar incident was witnessed on June 28, 2015 along the Western Railway, when a train over-sped from Churchgate station, crashing into the buffer. Five commuters were injured in that incident.

Kayakalp Panel proposes Action Plan to cut down Train Accidents

New Delhi: Railways Kaya Kalp committee, headed by industrialist Ratan Tata decided to develop an action plan to reduce the number of train accidents, amid concerns over increasing cases of human errors and huge backlog of safety-related posts lying vacant.

While examining the data on type of accidents and causes, the panel is understood to have taken stock of the railways recruitment process, considering that over 1.5 lakh safety-related posts were vacant at present. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has earlier emphasised the need for a ‘zero accident mission’ with a definite time frame.

The meeting was the third in the series and the next one is scheduled to be held on November 6. In the first Kaya Kalp meeting, Tata had suggested an incentive-driven mechanism for employees resolving problems faced by the public transporter through innovative ideas.

Rs 200-Crore central fund for victims of rape, acid attacks, human trafficking, cross-border firing

New Delhi: The government has introduced a Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) scheme with an initial corpus of Rs 200 crore, to enable support to victims of rape, acid attacks, human trafficking and women killed or injured in cross border firing.

The victims of acid attacks and rapes will now get Rs 3 lakh as part of CVCF while the compensation will rise by 50% in case the victim is less than 14 years of age.

The government aims to support and supplement the existing victim compensation schemes notified by states/UT administrations through the new scheme. A ministry of home affairs statement said that CVCF will reduce disparity in quantum of compensation amount notified by different states/UTs for victims of similar crimes.

It will also lead to effective implementation of victim compensation scheme (VCS) notified by states under provisions of Section 357A of CrPC and continue financial support to victims of various crimes especially sexual offences including rape, acid attacks, crime against children, human trafficking, etc, MHA said.

Under the new scheme, an acid attack or rape victim will get Rs 3 lakh, a minor subjected to physical abuse will be paid Rs 2 lakh, rehabilitation of victim of human trafficking – Rs 1 lakh, sexual assault (excluding rape) – Rs 50,000, death – Rs 2 lakh, permanent disability (80% or more) – Rs 2 lakh, partial disability (40% to 80%) – Rs I lakh, burns affecting greater than 25% of the body (excluding acid attack cases) – Rs 2 lakh, loss of foetus – Rs 50,000, loss of fertility – Rs 1.5 lakh and women victims of cross-border firing – Rs 2 lakh for death or permanent disability and Rs 1 lakh in case of disability (40% to 80%).

The new scheme comes in effect from August 21 this year.

The states have been asked to suitably modify the state victim compensation schemes to reduce disparity in quantum of compensation amount notified by them and claim financial support from the Central Victim Compensation Fund Scheme.

Kalka-Shimla train derailment caused by “failure of railway staff”: Inquiry Report

Shimla: A statutory inquiry into the September 12 derailment of the four-coach “toy train” from Kalka to Shima, in which two tourists from the United Kingdom, both women, had died has concluded that the accident was caused by “failure of railway staff”.

Apart from the two women who died, three passengers suffered injuries and two received simple injuries in the mishap.

Mr.S.K.Pathak, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, Northeast Frontier Circle, Kolkata who held a statutory inquiry into the derailment of the special train, which had been chartered for the group of tourists, has submitted his preliminary report, an official press release said.

“According to the provisional findings of the Commissioner appended with his preliminary report the accident took place due to ‘Failure of Railway Staff’,” it said.

These findings are under the consideration of the Government, it said.

The derailment had taken place between Kalka and Taksal stations on the Kalka-Shimla narrow guage section of Ambala Division of Northern Railway at 1251 hours on September 12.

In all, there were 37 passengers on the train, including 34 UK nationals, for whom a travel agency had chartered the toy train, so called because of its size.

The narrow-gauge Kalka-Shimla railway line is a UNESCO heritage site and is a major tourist attraction. Shimla used to be the summer capital of the country during British Raj.

Derailment on Velachery-Chennai Beach MRTS line – poor Track Maintenance cited as Major Reason

mrts chennai derailmentChennai: The derailment of a train on the Velachery-Chennai Beach MRTS line has thrown into high relief the issue of manpower shortage. Railway sources say many vacant posts have not been filled, which has resulted in lack of sufficient manpower for carrying out maintenance of the tracks.

When contacted, Southern Railway General Manager Vashishta Johri brushed aside this charge and said periodic maintenance was carried out by electrical supervisors. “The electrical supervisors are also looking into maintenance. Out of the 360 supervisor posts, there are only 25 vacancies. It is a common cadre,” said Mr. Johri.

Asked whether there was any ‘train examiner’ from the mechanical department to conduct routine checks of trains at key stations such as Chennai Beach, Mr. Johri said, “There is just no practice of checking the coaches at any station. As a practice, there is no maintenance at stations. There is neither any need nor is there any instruction on any such maintenance. Rules are prescribed.”

According to railway employees, vacancies in the posts of train examiner and khalasi are not being filled. It is believed that this attitude stems from an anticipation of a future when such work will be handed over to private operators. Southern Railway has not yet compiled data on the number of vacancies in the train examiner and Group D posts. In addition to overhaul of coaches every 18 months in the Perambur shed, train examiners who head a team of Group D employees check if the wagons are ‘fit’ or ‘sick’, before operations.

Employees stressed the need for posting adequate train examiners at the EMU shed in Avadi to check on the coaches for ‘rail-worthiness’.

In an earlier derailment, not too far from the current location, poor maintenance of tracks was cited as the major reason.

Quoting from an inquiry report of this accident, which took place on February 18, 2014 on the same stretch, “the JE/P.Way/MRTS has not maintained the track parameters within the permissible limits after completion of track work. The derailment happened at 10.16 a.m. while Train.No.41038 Velachery-Chennai Beach UP EMU was running between Chepauk and Chennai Beach stations, all four wheels of leading bogie of the fourth coach No.12962 derailed.”

The inquiry report for the derailment on Monday will be readied in 10 days.

Twin rail tragedy near Harda, MP due to Flood Water: CRS Report

harda twin train mishap siteBhopal: Overflow of flood water causing washout of the rail embankment was the primary cause of twin rail mishaps near Harda on August 4, according to the provisional report of the Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS).

As many as 29 passengers lost their lives and 45 were injured when train no 11071 Kamayani Express and 13201 Janata Express were derailed near Harda in Madhya Pradesh at around 11.30 pm on August 4.

Railways had ordered an inquiry into the incident and accordingly Dinesh Kumar Singh, Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), South Central Circle under ministry of civil aviation, conducted the probe to ascertain the cause of the accident in August this year.

After carefully considering the factual, material and circumstantial evidence, CRS has provisionally come to the conclusion that the derailment of both trains was caused due to washing away of ballast and formation of soil beneath the track, according to the report.

The failure of railway embankment including the approaches of bridge was caused due to sudden washout of the approaches of a road bridge on Machak River near Rolgaon village on Sirali-Masangaon district road on account of very heavy rainfall in the catchment area of Machak river upstream, the report stated.

The CRS report also observed that the sudden surge of water due to washout of approaches of the road bridge caused flooding in Mandla village and due to overflow of the flood water, the track ballast and embankment started eroding and finally the railway embankment for almost 270 m got washed away.

According to railway ministry, these findings are under the consideration of government for taking further action to prevent such mishaps in future.

Railway Ministry to identify vulnerable accident areas

New Delhi: Expressing concern over a spate of train accidents in recent times, Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mittal has instructed Divisional Railway Managers across the country to inspect all railway sections, identify vulnerable areas and take up corrective steps to improve the safety measures.

The circular comes in the wake of “zero-accident mission” stressed by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

safety IRThe Divisional Railway Managers have been asked to send action taken/to be taken reports by October 31, a railway official told.

Mr.Mittal said the spate of recent accidents highlighted the emergent concerns in respect of safety of train operations. Mr. Mittal listed the areas for DRMs to study thoroughly. They have been asked to inspect the adequacies of infrastructure, condition of railway track, especially the points and crossings and the location of signals.

They should also study the safeguards at level-crossing gates and availability of clearances on the railway track conforming to the schedule of dimensions.

The officials should also prepare a report if staff were safety-conscious and whether they adhered to the schedule of inspections of infrastructure with respect to safety. The DRMs have to identify the deficiencies found during their inspections and take up corrective steps. The Chairman has also sought details of the areas of systematic weaknesses, if any, and the action plan to set right them.

Andheri derailment: Officials find fault at forged Metal used for Axle that broke

Mumbai: The derailment of a Western Railway local train, south of Andheri station on September 15, has the potential to dent two solid reputations – the Rail Wheel Factory (RWF) at Yelahanka, Bengaluru, and a top weapons manufacturing company under the defence ministry based in West Bengal’s 24 Parganas (North) district.

The broken axle of the local that derailed near Andheri on September 15
The broken axle of the local that derailed near Andheri on September 15

The RWF claims to have a ‘cent per cent’ success record when it comes to the performance of its products like axles. The defence firm is the military’s premier factory to build military hardware as well as the super-strength metal that goes into the creation of these weapons.

Railway officials told that the metal for the axle that broke during the Andheri derailment was forged there. The RWF’s reputation is also under cloud. The website of the railway’s premier wheel-and-axle plant proudly claims that “our dedication to quality is reflected in our performance that not a single product has failed on line till date since inception”.

The website further adds that the “wheels and axles manufactured at RWF meet the Association of American Railroad (AAR) and Indian Railway Standard (IRS) specifications for various railroad applications”, claims Pankaj Jain, GM/RWF.  Reiterating the manufacturing plant’s track record, Pankaj claims “it is true. no product of the RWF has ever failed in service”. He said that the axle was built in 2011 in RWF, but its metal was forged by the West Bengal firm.

On Tuesday, mechanical engineering officials of the metallurgical department of RWF will be in Mumbai, giving their views on the breaking of the axle, built by RWF, under the Indian Railway Standard R43 specifications- of coach 4003B of the train. The breaking of the axle and the subsequent caving in of the wheels of the train is now being seen as ‘the most possible’ reason for the derailment that ended up injuring several people grievously.

RWF officials will be in Mumbai to answer queries as part of the mandated inquiry into the derailment being presided by Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) Sushil Chandra. The inquiry is trying to find answers as to why the axle, built in 2011, broke though they have a life of 30 years.

Officials told that the ingredients that went into the making of the axle as well as the way it broke are factors that go way beyond the investigations into the derailment. “It is unprecedented that an axle breaks like this. Even after derailments much bigger in scale than the Andheri one, we have found the wheel-and-axle set and the bogie are completely intact,” they said.

WR suspends man who tested derailed rake

WR officials suspect breakage of axle in the fifth coach of the rake to be responsible for the derailment of seven coaches that caused suspension of services for 21 hours. Nobody had been hurt but severe damage could have happened if the driver of an oncoming train had not applied brakes.

After finding facts in derailment, WR has suspended the Chemical Metreological Superintendent (CMS), who had carried out the ultrasonic test on the rake which derailed between Andheri and Vile Parle on September 15. The suspension order was issued by the WR headquarters on Friday. “The CMS had carried out the test in the last week of June but there was nothing abnormal in the test, else the axle would have been replaced,” a source said. “The test is performed at the Parel workshop when it is brought in. A second test is performed when it is fitted to the coach.”

The faulty axle and wheel was manufactured in 2013 but was fitted onto the ill-fated rake three months ago. The Chief Workshop Manager of Railway Wheel Factory (RWF), Bengaluru, is expected to meet the commissioner of railway safety (Western Circle) Sushil Chandra in a day or two. Chandra will ascertain how the axle broke because this is very rare.

Railways on Notice – Safety, not Bullet Trains, needs to be Top Priority

Why 150 million passengers choosing not to travel by train is a big Red Alert for the Indian Railways!

IR Safety ImpAlmost a year into his tenure as railway minister, Suresh Prabhu, has done what he should have done right after taking charge: called a meeting of the most senior railway officials and told them he will not have any more excuses on safety. The meeting took place in the wake of several railway accidents causing deaths and raising serious safety concerns all around. The glamourous new idea of the government has been creating a diamond quadrilateral of high-speed train links, and Mr Prabhu’s public pronouncements till date have mostly dealt with the need to find fresh big-ticket investments.

There has been no commensurate public concern over too many rail accidents – although introducing bullet trains and the like without improving safety can only lead to more serious accidents. Yes, the railways does need to modernise, which does not come cheap; and investment and safety are conceptually linked if new technology is considered as a route to greater safety. But whenever there is talk of addressing the poor safety record of the Indian Railways, all that the leadership can think of by way of a solution is big-ticket investment. Even as Mr Prabhu expressed his exasperation over the continuing spate of accidents, the railway board chairman spoke of a Rs 1-lakh-crore safety plan to be put before the Union Cabinet. Of course there is a need to invest for creating necessary infrastructure to eliminate level crossings and renew ageing tracks and rolling stock. But the railway establishment should know that safety can be improved also without spending a paisa more – by toning up the way the organisation functions.

The need of the hour is to ensure that well-established safety practices and drills which have been allowed to be run down are again followed with alacrity. The drill of inspecting tracks before trains are allowed to go through has become lax. This drill helps detect breaches in tracks caused through ageing, sabotage, or when flash floods wash them away. If there are sections where the traffic is too heavy for this kind of inspection to be undertaken with the necessary periodicity, Mr Prabhu must cancel some passenger trains on the ground that the present traffic density is unsustainable.

As Train Accidents/Derailments increased almost on daily basis, Railways accounted a loss of 150 Million Passengers in first five months of FY16 – a clear sign of Passenger Traffic weaning away to Road mode!

Several accidents take place because of human error. The only way this can be undone is by motivating the staff better – which cannot happen unless they see the minister and top officials leading from the front. The minister has reminded top railway officials that he has already delegated substantial autonomy to them and it is high time they were held accountable. He has given them six months to act and underlined the need for safety audits by neighbouring zones (not a zone auditing itself) – but he should have done this six months ago.

The reality is that there is no sign that the railways today is a more toned up organisation. For the past several months, it has not been able to appoint a full-time member on its board to oversee traffic operations – a responsibility that includes overseeing safety as well. An additional member is looking after this crucial portfolio. A certain amount of outsourcing of passenger services is being done with immediate improvement in delivery – but subsequent backsliding. The performance of outsourced agencies needs monitoring; but in a business-as-usual scenario, that does not take place. More than anything else, railway safety today needs to be a greater priority.

passengers dwindling on IRThe Ministry of Railways is also at a loss as to why the number of passengers travelling in trains is going down despite no increase in fares. The railways have lost 150 million passengers in the five months of the current financial year, and Suresh Prabhu is worried. The trend of declining passengers left the Minister of State (MoS) for Railways Manoj Sinha astounded. “The trains are always full. You cannot get a reservation. Then how can you say the number of passengers travelling in trains is going down. There must be something wrong with the numbers,” he is believed to have said.

The railway ministry numbers show that while 3,575 million passengers travelled in trains in the period between April to August in FY15, the figure for the same period in the current year was 3,425 million, a fall of 4.2 per cent in ridership. Going by the trend, railways expect a nearly 5 per cent fall in passenger traffic by the end of the year.

This is the second year in a row that the passenger figures have shown a downward trend. Railways had lost 191 million passengers in 2014-15 too. “Though we were concerned, we thought it was an aberration and things would be alright. However, now things are becoming worse and we have to buck the trend for the sake of railway’s financial health,” a senior official in the traffic directorate of railways told. For that the railways have to first figure out the reason for the passengers’ cold shoulder.

As a follow-up to the GMs meeting, Chairman Railway Board (CRB) AK Mittal has sent a letter to all the zonal GMs, asking them to find out from the divisions under them as to why the passenger numbers are declining.

“The Railway Board Members cannot figure out the trend. It has defied their belief that their low fares vis-a-vis road travel would ensure that passengers do not go anywhere,” the traffic official said.

Several officials failed to see any sense in CRB’s letter. “It does not require rocket science to figure out why the passenger figures are going down. Maximum loss has been in the short distance and suburban segment. Obviously, passengers prefer road journeys to the unwelcoming railways. They prefer to pay more to save time than to wait for low fare, unpunctual and crowded trains,” an official said.

He listed out several reasons for passengers’ unhappiness, right from booking of a ticket to the journey itself. “It is a pain for most passengers to buy a ticket. There are long queues. Ticket vending machines have been installed at some stations like New Delhi but many of them don’t work. If they work, they ask for the exact amount of money and do not return cash. Mobile booking Apps have been launched for some segments but how many can use them. Most passengers don’t have credit or debit cards,” he revealed.

Another official said there was also the possibility that ticket compliance had reduced and many passengers were travelling without tickets. He said there was a shortage of about 5,000 train ticket examiners (TTEs). “TTEs anyway restrict themselves to reserved sections and hardly venture out to the unreserved sections of the train,” he added.

The only saving grace was that railways had registered a marginal increase of 8 million in the reserved category, mainly accounting for long distance and AC-coach travelers. (Courtesy: HTET)

WR, CR officials claims ‘Immunity’ over the Safety Reports of CRS

Unaccountability had emboldened the cadre officials to take lightly the maintenance of Railway System in India. Railway officials always talk about CRS when they are blamed for lack of critical analysis and action when derailment happens, and say that since CRS come under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, there is no bias, but the truth is that Final Power rests with the Railway Board which can reject the CRS report. There is no other way to pursue the matter after that, which is why Railways and its Officers run amuck as they know no police action will be taken against them, ever, thus claim absolute immunity!IR Line of Control

Mumbai: Officials from within claimed there was no one to question the Railways about lack of safety measures. Sources said the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) that had a head office in Lucknow and had been placed under the Ministry of Civil Aviation for an unbiased evaluation of accidents like the one that occurred on Western Railway (WR) and the one on Solapur Division were an eyewash as its safety reports were not binding on and could be overturned by the Railway Board.

A senior official said that was the reason why railways, both CR and WR, had been left unchecked, endangering the lives of 75 lakh commuters travelling daily on these lines.

“Railway officials always talk about CRS when they are blamed for lack of critical analysis and action when derailment happens and say that since they come under the aviation ministry, there is no bias, but the truth is that final power rests with the Railway Board which can reject the CRS report. There is no other way to pursue the matter after that, which is why railways and its managers run amuck as they know no police action will be taken against them, ever,” he said.

Another official working in Mumbai suburban for almost a decade said that he did not remember any railway official being removed from the services owing to deaths caused by derailment on the Mumbai suburban till date.

“I have never seen an officer kicked out of service. At the most, there have been cases where the officer was transferred to other railway zones like the North Frontier that are known as punishment postings,” he said.

Officials said that unaccountability had emboldened the cadre to take lightly the maintenance of Mumbai suburban.

“There is a wild card that the Board holds to nullify any CRS finding and uses as a safety net when something goes horribly wrong,” said the senior official

Damaged Fastening Clips near Accident Spot offers clues in Mumbai Suburban Local derailment

Crevice corrosion can be noted at the location underneath the metal liner.
Crevice corrosion can be noted at the location underneath the metal liner

Mumbai: Though the exact cause of Tuesday’s derailment on the Western Railway will be known only after a detailed probe, railway officials said the mishap could have been due to a foreign body, or a part of the train’s underbelly, coming into contact with the track.

Their theory is based on the fact that about 100m behind the accident spot, fastening clips, which hold together the tracks and sleepers (horizontal cement planks) were found damaged.

Railways have not used modern fasteners on this section i.e. elastic fastenings, that allows for dampening of the vibrations. A cast iron insert is cast inside the sleeper. The leg of an elastic rail clip (ERC) is then inserted in the cast iron insert. This ERC keeps the rail anchored to the sleeper by applying load on the foot of the rail. It does not directly touch the rail, but on a liner. The liner prevents the rail foot from getting damaged due to impact from the elastic rail clip. The liners used by Indian Railways are either made of mild steel or glass filled nylon. The nylon liner is increasingly being used by Railways because, apart from the normal requirements, it also provides insulation of the electrified rails. The important location between the liner and rail foot is prone to a dangerous form of localized corrosion known as crevice corrosion.

WR officials suspect that as the Churchgate-bound train approached the crossover (track changing point) where it derailed, something began hitting these clips, knocking them loose. By the time the train reached the crossover, it began to derail. While the first four coaches remained on track, the fifth jumped onto the adjoining line. In all, seven coaches derailed.

Some railway officials, however, said simple track failure could not be ruled out. “We are trying to ascertain the cause of the accident. So far we have found damaged fastening clips about 100m behind the accident spot,” said a senior railway official. As the train was travelling at speed when it derailed, it caused damage to a further 1.5km of track, including two crossover points, and uprooted a pole carrying overhead wires. Officials said restoring this section would be a big challenge.

Rake derailed as axle in fifth coach broke: Western Railway officials

In another version, Western Railway officials says “material failure” could be the most likely cause for Tuesday morning’s derailment of a VirarChurchgate fast local.

Of the twelve-car rake, coach numbers four to ten coach numbers four to ten got derailed. A WR source said, “An axle (the shaft connecting a pair of wheels) of the fifth coach of the train broke, disrupting the movement of the coaches chained to it.The derailed coaches moved a few meters further, damaging overhead equipment (OHE) and poles, and also infringing on the adjoining fast track.”  A WR official said, “It is an unprecedented incident. A split or break in axle is unheard of.”

The rake, compatible with 25KV alternating current (AC), was manufactured in Chennai’s Integral Coach Factory in 2012. Sources said the axle in question had been manufactured at the Parel workshop, but there was no official confirmation.

“The metal of the axle s not tested when the rake goes for regular maintenance. If it is conclusively established that there was material failure, an intensive inspection will have to be undertaken to weed out inferior quality axles,” said an official.

Axles are made by casting steel. It is possible hat some infirmity may have remained at the time of pouring the molten metal. Ultrasonic tests are regularly done to check infirmities. It is difficult to find out the causes for the sudden fracture and breakage of an axle.”

Track fracture usual y causes derailment, bu an official said WR uses rails of a high quality “Even maintenance of racks is superior on WR and so track fracture does not seem to be the reason.”

Starting on Friday , a statutory inquiry will be conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (Western Circle).  A detailed inquiry will be conducted into this incident, said Sharat Chandrayan, CPRO/WR.

Irate commuters rough up Station Master of Parle Station

Tuesday’s derailment ensured a second straight day of harrowing journeys for lakhs of people. Around 130 local services were cancelled till late Tuesday evening.

Services limped back to normalcy by midnight, but anger and frustration among commuters persisted the day after the derailment of a Virar-Churchgate fast local caused WR’s most massive disruption in about a decade. WR’s divisional railway manager (Mumbai) Shailendra Kumar said normalcy will resume from Thursday .

The Station Master of Vile Parle was manhandled by a mob of commuters on Tuesday night because of the disruption in Western Railway’s services caused by the derailment of a local train in the morning. Ashok Azad was taken to WR’s Jagjivan Ram Hospital (JRH) and admitted to intensive care unit. He was shifted to the general ward on Wednesday afternoon.

The attack on him occurred around 11pm on Tuesday . “His arms were bleeding and he complained of pain in the chest and back. He had been pushed around by the crowd,” said his wife Sushma. The Andheri GRP has lodged an FIR, but no arrests have been made yet.

Sujata Sapre, a professor at the International Institute of Sports Management, said, “Almost all students reached college late today because of delayed trains. One of my colleagues had taken a Churchgate-bound train from Goregaon at 10am. She arrived at Churchgate at 2.30pm. Evening peak-hour trains were also delayed and overcrowded. I didn’t board two consecutive Borivali-bound trains as they were too crowded.”

Some even left their offices early to avoid the evening rush but still had to wait for up to 20 minutes for a train. “I left early today so that my train would be less crowded but the situation was bad even at 5pm,” said Satyavan Joshi, 55, who works as an accountant for a private firm.

While the adjoining Virar fast corridor was opened to traffic at 7.35pm on Tuesday , it took over 21 hours to start the Churchgate fast corridor. The derailment had occurred between Andheri and Vile Parle stations.

Around 3am on Wednesday , WR decided to use a crane to remove the derailed coaches from the track after it became clear that the rake could not be pulled out by an engine because of a broken axle in the fifth coach, said Kumar.

Commuters had to travel for two hours and 30 minutes from Virar to Churchgate because of the disruption, even after taking early morning trains on Wednesday . Andheri resident Kapil Arora said, “Services on even the Harbour line were not running till CST. I had to take the Metro to Ghatkopar to board a Central Rail way train to Dadar.”

At Borivli station, a commuter, Shibu George, said, “I have been waiting for a train for 40 minutes, but there is none at sight.”

A WR official said that signals on the third, fourth and fifth tracks near the accident site were put on ‘A marker’, which means that every train that passed the spot had to halt before proceeding. “This led to a loss of punctuality.”

Rail traffic hit as wagons derail at Maniyachi

Kovilpatti (CVP): Rail traffic on Tirunelveli/Tuticorin-Kovilpatti section was hit for more than two hours after a wagon derailed at Maniyachi at around 4.40 p.m. on Tuesday.

A statement from Southern Railway, Madurai Division, said the fourth wagon of a twenty-three wagon goods train re-railed at 6.55 p.m. and after track fitness certificate was issued at 7 p.m., the freight train was backed to the yard at 7.15 p.m.

The first train to pass the section was Tuticorin-Mysore express train (16235). It was regulated at Milavittan and it started immediately left Maniyachi at 7.34 p.m.

Chennai Egmore-Guruvayur Express train (16127), which was regulated at Virudhunagar, started simultaneously from this station. Train No.56320 Coimbatore-Nagercoil Passenger was terminated at Kovilpatti and partially cancelled between Kovilpatti and Nagercoil.

Rail Minister addresses a Specially Convened Meeting of GMs on Safety Measures in Rail Operations

The Union Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu addressing a specially convened General Managers Meeting on “Safety in Rail Operations”, in New Delhi on September 15, 2015. The Minister of State for Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha, the Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital, the Board Members and senior officials of Railway Board are also seen
The Union Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu addressing a specially convened General Managers Meeting on “Safety in Rail Operations”, in New Delhi on September 15, 2015. The Minister of State for Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha, the Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital, the Board Members and senior officials of Railway Board are also seen

New Delhi: The India’s Union Minister for Railways Mr.Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu today addressed a specially convened meeting on the Agenda of Safety of General Managers of all the 17 Railway Zones. The Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that safety should continue to be the topmost priority in railway operations and he called upon the General Managers to personally ensure that the safety aspects are handled in the most professional manner at all levels. The Minister said that no excuses for lapses are acceptable.

The Union Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu addressing a specially convened General Managers Meeting on “Safety in Rail Operations”, in New Delhi on September 15, 2015. The Minister of State for Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha, the Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital, the Board Members and senior officials of Railway Board are also seen
The Union Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu addressing a specially convened General Managers Meeting on “Safety in Rail Operations”, in New Delhi on September 15, 2015. The Minister of State for Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha, the Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital, the Board Members and senior officials of Railway Board are also seen

The Minister of Railways pointed out that he has delegated and decentralized more powers at the level of General Managers and Divisional Railway Managers but with this empowerment should come greater responsibility and accountability. He said that every railway employee from the Board Member to the Trackman (TM) should be conscious of their duties and there was a need to fix accountability in the system. He further said that there is a need to adopt outcome oriented approach by all the Branches at Zonal level. Suresh Prabhu said that one need to go to the basics and to the fundamentals while adhering to safety protocol in railway operations.

The Union Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu addressing a specially convened General Managers Meeting on “Safety in Rail Operations”, in New Delhi on September 15, 2015. The Minister of State for Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha, the Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital, the Board Members and senior officials of Railway Board are also seen
The Union Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu addressing a specially convened General Managers Meeting on “Safety in Rail Operations”, in New Delhi on September 15, 2015. The Minister of State for Railways, Shri Manoj Sinha, the Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital, the Board Members and senior officials of Railway Board are also seen

The Minister further emphasized the need to conduct strong safety audits at all levels on regular intervals and concrete action should be taken on those reports in a time bound manner. He again reiterated that the issue of safety is non-negotiable and any laxity on this front is unacceptable. We need to improve supervision, inspection, monitoring and periodical review of safety measures. The Minister also emphasized on adopting a holistic approach on safety and other activities of Railways. He said that we have to strive for zero accident mission and a road map and comprehensive action plan need to be prepared. He said that we should not hesitate in taking harsh actions on lapses and to fix responsibility wherever necessary and desirable as there cannot be any excuse for lapses. The Minister said that we need to pull up our socks to ensure that the railway’s system functions efficiently and safely all the time.

The Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital addressing a Press Conference along with the other Board Members regarding the outcome of the specially convened General Managers Meeting on “Safety in Rail Operations” and other matters, in New Delhi on September 15, 2015
The Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital addressing a Press Conference along with the other Board Members regarding the outcome of the specially convened General Managers Meeting on “Safety in Rail Operations” and other matters, in New Delhi on September 15, 2015

In his speech Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said that time has come for hard actions and we need to strictly observe safety systems. He also advised to fill up safety related vacant posts on priority. He said that there should not be complacence in matters of safety.

Chairman, Railway Board, A.K.Mital outlined the objective of the meeting. The other Railway Board Members also presented their views at the meeting. 17 General Managers of all the Railway Zones attended the day long meeting. The issues like loading, Punctuality, Earnings and Cleanliness were also discussed in the meeting. Later, Chairman Railway Board addressed a press conference giving details about the outcome of the meeting.

7 Coaches of Virar-Churchgate Train derail between Andheri-Vile Parle; WR services disrupted

wr local derailmentMumbai: It was a striking coincidence, as the Union Minister for Railways Mr.Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu was holding a comprehensive Review Meeting with the General Managers of various zonal Rail systems at Railway Board, New Delhi today, on the frequent accidents and derailments of passenger trains on IR,  thousands of commuters were left in the lurch in Mumbai as several coaches of a Western Railway suburban local train derailed at around 11 am on Tuesday near Vile Parle station.

Seven coaches of a local train today derailed between Andheri and Vile Parle stations in suburban Mumbai, disrupting traffic on the busy route linking Churchgate in South Mumbai to Virar.

The incident took place at 6.55 pm when an up local coming from Bandra derailed while entering platform number two of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) during peak hours, the official said.

Since the train was running at a low speed no injury or casualty has been reported, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), Western Railway, Sharat Chandrayan said.

wr local derailment2The train coming from Borivili to Churchgate derailed at around 11 AM between Andheri and Vile Parle stations, the second such incident involving local trains in as many days.

A team of engineers and rescue officials have rushed to the spot to restore the services, the CPRO said.

An inquiry would be conducted to ascertain the cause of the derailment, he added.

Meanwhile, trains on Western Railway have been massively disrupted. Trains on platforms 3, 4 and 5 on Andheri station have been cancelled for now.

However trains on the slow track seemed to be running again after a short delay, according to several users on Twitter. Harbour line trains are said to be running as well. A probe has been ordered to ascertain the reason behind the incident, he added.

With spate of train mishaps remaining unabated, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has summoned all zonal heads to brainstorm on Tuesday for remedial actions. The move has come in the backdrop of alarming rise in incidences of train mishaps in the last one year. “The single point agenda of the meeting on Tuesday of the general managers in Indian Railways is to discuss the issue of safety. Besides Mr Prabhu, the full Railway Board will participate in the meeting. The meeting has been called to produce actionable plans with timeline to mitigate the spate of train mishaps,” said a senior ministry official.

There has been no month in the last year when there was no mishap. The rising incidences of train mishaps involved cases of trains washed away in MP to unabated killings of passengers and commuters in accidents at both manned and unmanned level crossings.

Duronto Derailment: CRS should also check Contractors’ Maintenance Schedules & Roster

Although the investigation centres around switch expansion joint where the train jumped off the track, Mr. D.K.Singh, who took a 2-km walk on the track, pointed out several discrepancies in track maintenance activities. CRS should not lose sight of the investigation around the role of Contractors bagging the maintenance contract and failed to properly execute the maintenance works. It is often debated that Contractors bag hefty track maintenance works, but hardly carry out any maintenance; rather bribe the Engineering Staff/Officials for engaging Railways on-roll staffers (Trackmen/Gangmen) in various sections under the SSEs to assist them in maintenance works (and not engaging their own resourses – thus saving huge money), resulting in gross resentment, indiscipline, quarrels and disputes among the lower and higher echelons of the Engineering branch. Supposing the lower rung of staff raise such issues, the concerned SSEs will mark absent or send them to far flung areas in an act of grudge, for having questioned such misuse of manpower. This incident of derailment could be an act of sheer engineering neglect as well, as such an illegal and unlawful behaviour in vogue on entire Indian Railway system today. Need of the hour is to probe into such aspects of Engineering branches and eschew discards/culprits for the overall Safety on Indian Railway passengers. Can Rail Minister counsel Member Engineering in this regard, and probe the issue in that angle too, in the formal meeting with Zonal GMs scheduled for tomorrow?

Salutations to all the gang men who risk their lives and work hard in the merciless scotching sun to make sure the trains have a smooth run while we travel and sleep in peace

D.K. Singh, Commissioner, Railway Safety (South Central), on Sunday began the process to identify the reasons for the derailment of the Duronto Express from Secunderabad to LTT Mumbai at Martur Railway Station in Kalaburagi district in the early hours of Saturday which claimed the lives of two women passengers.

Most of the Trackmen/Gangmen complain that the concerned Engineering Officials right from SE/SSE (P-Way) to DEN, Sr.DEN and above, deploy them unofficially for various works at their homes i.e. for Garden works, Cleaning of Clothes, Cooking, Cleaning of Bathrooms and Toilets, Water Valve maintenance, Watchman duties, Vegetables and market works. Approximately 6-8 people unofficially works in SSE/P-Way house in general. If someone raise their voice, then such a Trackmen/Gangmen will either be declared absent to duties or sent elsewhere for some fictitious duties.  This type of aping of colonial behaviour by Indian Railway officials, particularly by the Engineering Officers is the primary cause of maintenance issues and resultant poor track health situation. In one such complaint, the concerned Sr.DENs/ADRM/DRM/CE/PCE including the SDGM (the sole Vigilance Official on a Zonal Railway) have NOT heard the voice of a TM who dared to complaint on the situation prevalant in his section, with photograph/video proofs.  In fact, the Trackman who came to lodge a complaint about an SSE involved in such nasty activities, was rather threatened of transfer or suspension. Will the CRS, CRB and the Railway Minister first of all, check such an indecent behaviour of top Railway Officials to start with, for improving the Railway system?

Mr.Singh, who was accompanied by technical staff and Divisional Railway Manager of Solapur Division, after a detailed study of the accident spot and inspection of the track and the derailed bogies, told presspersons that he would be submitting a detailed report to the Railway Ministry within 25 days.

track maintenance gangmen3Mr.Singh said that the preliminary investigation and the inspection of the spot revealed that the derailment was not due to an act of sabotage. The other causes were being looked into and it was too early to say anything now, he added.

Railway Minister and his team at Railway Board should not forget that India ranks TOP in the world in accidents/derailments history as on date. No other country near matches the average record even for another a decade.  Such is the meritorious record the Engineering Branch of Railways have established over the past 50 plus years. Many of the works undertaken/executed by the Engineering Branches on various Zonal Railway systems in the track maintenance, branch strengthening works, earth works, embankment maintenance works, LC Gates works etc are far inferior in quality and sometimes, WORST!  It is well known fact that most of the Engineering Branch officials go in connivance with the Contractors and execute poor quality works with no proper supervision, surveillance, vigilance etc towards quality-consciousness. This is one of the main reason for regular derailments of Trains in India. Vigilance is also posing a Nelson’s Eye syndrome while investigating such complaints.

He said that he would hold a two-day sitting in Room No 4 (retiring room) at the Gulbarga Railway Station from Tuesday to record the statements of the driver of the Duronto Express, line staff who last checked the track near Martur Railway Station and technical staff.

Mr.Singh said that the general public can also give their statements, if any, and share any other information related to the accident.

track maintenance gangmen4
Salutations to all the gang men who risk their lives and work hard in the merciless scotching sun to make sure the trains have a smooth run while we travel and sleep in peace

Earlier, Mr.Singh, braving sweltering weather conditions, spent nearly three hours inspecting the derailed bogies and closely checking the condition of the railway track. Mr.Singh, who took a 2-km walk on the track, pointed out several discrepancies in track maintenance.

Mr.Singh spent more time inspecting the switch expansion joint (SEJ), the point where the Duronto Express appeared to have jumped the track, and questioned the maintenance staff about the three missing bolts in the switch expansion joint. He said that the staff had failed to ensure that the pandrol clips were fastened properly to the fish plates at several points.

At one point, Mr.Singh said that the track was not fit for operating trains at 110 kmph.

track maintenance gangmen2

President of India condoles the loss of lives due to derailment of a train in Karnataka

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has condoled the loss of lives due to derailment of a train at Martur Railway Station near Kalaburagi city in Karnataka.

In a message to Shri Vajubhai Vala, the Governor of Karnataka, the President has said “I am sad to learn about the derailment of a train at Martur Railway Station near Kalaburagi city in Karnataka this morning, as a result of which some persons have lost their lives and others are injured. I understand rescue as well as relief operations are currently underway.

I call upon the State Government and Railway authorities to provide all possible assistance to the bereaved families as well as the best of medical attention to the injured.

Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to all the injured persons”, he expressed.

Western Railway gives three coaches to derailed Duronto Express

The Western Railway (WR) has come to the aid of the Mumbai-Secunderbad Duronto Express that derailed near Martur station in Gulbarga on Saturday, by giving its own coaches to the latter so that it can continue its service.

The derailment killed two people and injured several others. The WR will provide three Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) air-conditioned coaches to make up for Duronto’s damaged coaches – B-7, B-8, B-9, pantry car, H-1, A-1, A-2, A-3 and generator car.

According to the officials, WR’s three coaches and Duronto’s seven coaches that escaped the damage will be sent to the South Central Railway in Secunderbad, so that the train’s schedule for Tuesday is not disrupted. They added that the train might run with a truncated number of coaches, since the current occupancy of the train is hovering around 70 per cent.

“When the train derailed on Saturday, it was just about 65 per cent full. After all, the railways does not have too many Duronto coaches and repairing them takes time, as there are very few workshops equipped to repair LHB coaches,” said an official.

It was earlier reported about the trouble that the department faces in case of damage to LHB coaches in a mishap. On May 3 this year, the CST-Ernakulam Duronto Express derailed near Madgaon and 10 of its coaches were damaged. The Central Railway (CR) had to face considerable public ire, after it operated the train with conventional coaches.

The Railway Board had to finally intervene and ask the Northern Railway to provide 10 coaches to CR so that the LTT-Ernakulam Duronto service could resume. Incidentally, the rakes damaged at that time are still waiting their turn at WR’s Lower Parel workshop for repair, almost four-and-a-half months after the incident.

The LHB overhaul problem:

Gradually, more and more rakes will be replaced with LHB coaches. While these coaches come with greater passenger comfort and riding qualities, their overhaul and repair is an issue. As of now, these coaches can be overhauled only at Lower Parel workshop in Mumbai, Liluah workshop in Howrah, West Bengal and Jagadhri workshop in Yamunanagar, Haryana. Plans are afoot to build facilities at Lalguda workshop in Secunderabad, Telengana, and Dibrugarh workshop in Assam.

RTI Query reveals Spike in death from falling off trains

Mumbai: Even as railway officials claim to be operating maximum suburban trains to ease the hardships of daily commuters in Mumbai, the number of deaths and those injured after falling from trains has gone up in the last one decade, as per an RTI query.

A whopping 25,722 passengers fell from suburban trains (travelling on Western, Central and Harbour suburban services in Mumbai Commissionerate) in last 10 years, of whom 6,989 commuters died while 18,733 survived, said RTI activist Anis Khan quoting a reply received from Government Railway Police (GRP), Mumbai. Despite the authorities’ efforts to curb deaths on tracks, the city’s railway system continues to claim lives at a constant rate. As per data with the Government Railway Police (GRP), nine people have died on the railway tracks every day this year.

Churchgate Station, Mumbai: Every day, near a million passengers pass through. On Western line trains, it’s 24 to 26 passengers a square metre during rush hour
Churchgate Station, Mumbai: Every day, near a million passengers pass through. On Western line trains, it’s 24 to 26 passengers a square metre during rush hour

In 2005, a total of 494 commuters lost their lives after falling from running trains. This figure went up subsequently in the coming years and reached up to 901 in 2013, up 82 per cent as compared to the death toll in 2005, he said. However, 2014 saw a marginal decline with 797 deaths reported after falling from suburban trains, he said.

Kalyan, Kurla, Thane, Borivli, and Vasai are the railway stations, which have recorded the most fatalities near them. These people were found dead after falling from a train, committing suicide, or having been pushed by someone.

Mr Khan said the railway administration has “completely failed” to provide safe and comfortable journey to the people. “The basic reason why people are dying like animals is that railway officers have entirely failed to comprehend the hardships of the commuters…and the basic reason behind this (inability to comprehend the problems) is that officers never travel in local trains,” he said. Most of the passengers fall or slip from the running trains when they struggle to get into a coach and fail to enter it or get dashed against a pole near the railway tracks, he said. “Until and unless officers do not feel the pinch of travelling in overcrowded local trains, such deaths are not going to stop,” Mr Khan said.

As per the statistics provided under the RTI query, apart from 6,989 passengers who died after falling from trains, 22,289 passengers succumbed while crossing the tracks (trespassing). A railway officer, on condition of anonymity, said, “This is true that number of cases of falling of passengers has gone up, but it also includes those cases when many people lost their lives while performing stunts.” “But sensing the gravity of the cases, constant announcements are made not to board or alight from running trains,” he added.

Railway activist Sameer Zaveri, who was also a railway victim once, said overcrowding is the biggest problem at hand. “People buy tickets but still have to stand on footboards. There are no safety measures for them. Moreover the High Court has asked the railways to build fences near the tracks to prevent people from entering, but the railways don’t do anything,” he said.

Around 30 per cent of victims’ bodies have to be disposed of by the cops; the families approach much later or the bodies remain unclaimed,” said Rupali Ambure, deputy commissioner of police, GRP, Central Railway. She further added, “We have been creating awareness among commuters to not cross tracks, not travel on footboards, and to take precautions while travelling. We have also written to railways to close all unauthorised entry points that bring one to railway tracks,” said Ambure. 1,679 people were injured this year on the railway tracks.

Chennai groups drum home point to stop train hits in the City

Should you happen to come upon a band playing music at a railway station, don’t look around for cameras. A film crew hasn’t turned the station into a set: it’s a live show that the Government Railway Police hopes will create the awareness needed to put the brakes on train accidents.

Officers of the GRP hit upon the idea after a study they conducted on railway tracks in city and suburbs showed that at least 35 people died in such accidents on a single stretch, between Beach and Chengalpet, in a month.

Train hits accounted for many as 2,750 deaths across the state in a year. The study also helped the GRP officers identify 20 accident prone spots, including at Korukkupet, Perambur, Avadi, Ambattur and Mambalam, where the most deaths took place.

When distribution of fliers to spread awareness did not appear to have yielded any results, the officers tied up with bands who agreed to play small shows on railway platforms to draw train users together as groups.

“The bands penned songs that include safety tips and set them to some peppy music from popular film tracks to attract the attention of train passengers,” Egmore DSP V Ponramu said. “The lyric makes it clear that it is illegal to cross railway tracks by any means.”

The bands have pulled in crowds at Mambalam, Guindy, Egmore and Chennai Central, he said, with people taking a short break to hear them despite being in a hurry. “So I would think the message is getting across,” the DSP said.

The GRP have also identified places where commuters cross tracks and erected new walls to prevent them from doing so. “We have posted two policemen at each of these locations,” a senior GRP officer said. “They will work in two shifts of eight hours each .”

The efforts of the GRP officers seem to be paying off. Regular train users report that there has been a sharp decline in the number of people they see crossing railway tracks in the city.

Two British Women killed in train accident in India

heritage train mishap parwanooShimla (SML): One of the most peaceful train journeys in India – the Unesco-recognised Kalka-Shimla heritage railway track – turned into the site of a tragedy on Saturday when three of the five bogeys of a chartered train derailed at Taksal near Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh, killing passengers for the second time in its over-a-century-old history.  Two of the 37 British and Canadian nationals who had booked special train were killed in the accident; 13 others were injured, two of them are seriously hurt.

Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered an investigation into the derailment.  The two women killed in a train derailment in India were travelling as part of an escorted tour with York-based Great Rail Journeys.

heritage train mishap parwanoo6India’s Union Minister of Railways Mr.Suresh Prabhu has expressed his condolences to their families. The deceased have been identified as Loraine Marrie Tonner, 55, and Joan Nicholas, 71. Sources said they died on the spot. The first time an accident turned fatal was in December 2008 when the derailment of three coaches in a tunnel in Solan killed a person.

Kalka-Shimla rail line was laid in 1903 and since then the toy train has been chugging along at a speed of 25 to 30 km an hour. Tourists encounter 917 sharp curves, 102 tunnels and 988 bridges on the 97-km journey. Unesco World Heritage status was accorded to the railway line in 2008.

Serious questions are being asked about the safety measures taken on the 112-year-old track given that at least two serious accidents have taken place in the past seven years prior to this one.

There were 37 people with the tour on the train, which had been chartered by the company for the trip. One of those was a tour manager with the company.

heritage train mishap parwanoo2Peter Liney, Great Rail Journeys’ chief executive, said: “Two passengers and the tour manager have been admitted [to hospital] overnight; we do not believe their injuries are life-threatening. All other passengers have now been transferred to a hotel.”

He said the company was working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to assist the relatives of the two women who had been killed.

Himachal Governor, CM express grief over rail mishap

heritage train mishap parwanoo3Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Dev Vrat and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today expressed grief over the death of two British nationals in a rail mishap near Parwanoo, about 90 km from Shimla.

The chief minister said there were 37 passengers on board out of which 34 were from United Kingdom.

“We are in touch with the UK Embassy authorities,” he said in a statement here.

heritage train mishap parwanoo4The train started its journey from Kalka Railway station at 12:45 on Saturday and it derailed 10 minutes later. Despite the slow speed, the impact of the derailment was such that at least one of the passengers crashed into a glass window, shattered it, and was thrown out of the bogey. His body was recovered from under the bogey ahead.

Sources added that the train may have gained a little speed on a curve not far from Kalka station, which may have caused the accident. Kalka station superintendent V K Arora said, “This train runs at a maximum speed of 28 km per hour with an average speed of 18 km. We had the driver and guard medically examined for alcohol but they were clean.”

Ambala divisional railway manager Dinesh Kumar who rushed to the spot said, “It’s impossible to tell the exact reason for the derailment right now but I have ordered an inquiry to find out the reason,”

Shimla-based historian Raja Bhasin, who was accompanying the tourists to Shimla, said, “I had just finished my lecture and had occupied my seat when suddenly a loud noise occurred and before we could understand what was happening there were cries of injured people all over and two were dead.”

The driver of the train, Dhan Singh, said, “I felt a sudden jolt on the curve and hit the breaks. I rushed to the derailed bogeys after informing the authorities and took out some of the passengers with the help of the guard.”

The injured after first aid at ESIC hospital in Parwanoo were shifted to Max Hospital in Chandigarh and condition of two injured persons is stated to be critical.

heritage train mishap parwanoo5

Mumbai-bound Duronto Express derails in Karnataka; 2 dead, 7 injured

At least two passengers were killed and eight others injured when nine coaches of Mumbai-bound Duronto Express train from Secunderabad derailed near Gulbarga in Karnataka.

Helpline Numbers:  Secunderabad: 040-27700868, Hyderabad: 040-23200865, Vikarabad: 08416-252013, Tandur: 08411-272010, Sedam: 08441-276066; Gulbarga 0847-2255066 / 2255067; Solapur 0217-2313331; CST Mumbai 022-22694040; LTT Mumbai 022-25280005; Kalyan 0251-2311499

Martur (MR), Gulbarga, Solapur Division, Maharashtra: At least two passengers died and seven people were injured after nine coaches of Duronto Express derailed in Karnataka on Saturday morning.

9 coaches of 12220 Secunderabad-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Duranto Express derailed at Martur Railway station near Gulbarga at 0215 Hrs on the Solapur Division of Central Railway blocking Up and Dn lines on Wadi-Gulbarga railway section.

Duronto Derailment MarturAs per the Central Railway’s statement, coaches B-7, B-8, B-9, Pantry Car, H-1, A-1, A-2, A-3 and Generator Car got derailed and 46-year-old Jyoti and 28-year-old Lata, who were going from Hyderabad to Pune, lost their lives in the incident.

It further read: “injured have been rushed to the nearest hospital at Gulbarga, Brake Down trains from Solapur, Daund and Wadi have been rushed to the site and senior railway officers have reached the site to oversee the restoration work.”

“Dn main line has been restored for rail traffic.”

Addressing the incident, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu took to his Twitter page to say that he had ordered an inquiry into the incident.

“Saddened by Duranto accident. Ordered enquiry. Immediate medical relief and other assistance rushed. Chair Rail board asked to rush,” he wrote in a series of tweets.

“All injured bring rushed to hospitals and treated by medical team. We give ex-gratia to injured, unfortunate families of dead. monitoring it. All possible assistance is provided to all affected, all being rescued. Very unfortunate for this. Cause investigated to take action,” he added.

Duronto Derailment Martur2Prabhu further wrote: “All 7 injured rushed to civil hospital, treatment on,rail doctors are on job. All arrangements made to take others to destination,special train. All possible help being provided to affected families and passengers. Chairman Rail Board, GM, DRM, all orders to be on rescue job.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately known.

Due to derailment of train no.12220 Secunderabad-Mumbai LTT Duronto Express at Martur Station on Solapur Division of Central Railway, following trains have been cancelled / partially cancelled:

Trains cancelled:  Raichur-Bijapur passenger train (Train No. 57134 ) scheduled to leave Raichur at 07.00 hrs on Saturday has been cancelled. South Central Railway also cancelled Train No. 12219 Mumbai LTT – Secunderabad Duronto Express scheduled to leave Mumbai LTT at 23:05 hrs today i.e., on 12.09.2015 is cancelled.

Trains partially cancelled:  Falaknuma-Gulbarga passenger train (Train No. 57660) which left Falaknuma on Saturday has been short terminated at Chittapur station and partially cancelled between Chittapur-Gulbarga.

SCR & NDRF Conduct Mock Disaster Management Drill at Bolarum Railway Station

disaster mgmt scrSecunderabad: It was a incident needing prompt attention and response. A passenger coach had climbed over another coach at Bolarum Railway Station and six passengers were stuck inside needing help. Immediately, rescue teams from South Central Railway (SCR) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were pressed into service and the passengers were evacuated and relief arranged for those amongst them who were injured. This entire rescue and relief operation was completed in just 50 minutes, signifying the essence of time during an emergency.

disaster mgmt scr2The above mentioned scene of disaster was not a real one but a full scale Technical Mock Drill conducted jointly by SCR and NDRF personnel at Bolarum Railway Station today i.e. 11th September 2015. Mock Drill was conducted in order to assess and enhance the efficiency and alertness of the staff to meet the challenges that arise during an accident. In this mock drill exercise, a total of 110 personnel trained in disaster management including 30 persons from NDRF, 45 from Secunderabad Division, 20 from Hyderabad Division, 15 from Railway Protection Force were involved.

disaster mgmt scr3The objective of the Mock drill was also to test the use of various equipment procured for use during disasters and undertake hands-on experience with tools like cold cutting equipment such as saber saw, abrasive cutter to cut the window rods and the coach body, which facilitates easy lifting of injured passengers and evacuate them from the affected coaches. A 140 Tonne Crane and Accident Relief Train were also put to use during the entire exercise.

disaster mgmt scr4Speaking with media on the sidelines of the mock drill, Aruna Singh, Divisional Railway Manager, Hyderabad Division said that railways are well trained in tackling disaster rescue/ relief operations and advised rail users to remain confident on the abilities of the railway personnel. She said that the mock drill is conducted as per the directives of Minister of Railways, targeting to achieve Zero accidents record on Indian Railways. During the current year 2015-16 till date, Hyderabad Division has maintained a Zero accident slate on the strength of continuous efforts of the Safety team, she added.  This was on account of elimination of 21 Un-Manned Level Crossings (UMLCs) on the Division by means of providing Road under Bridges etc during 2014-15. Further, 14 more UMLCs are targeted for elimination during the current year and the objective is to eliminate all UMLCs by 2016-17, she informed. Other measures towards safety on the Division include posting of Road Safety Counsellors at UMLCs, safety awareness campaigns etc.

S.P.Sahu, Chief Safety Officer/SCR, L.S.R.K. Sastry, Sr.Divisional Safety Officer, Hyderabad Division/SCR and R.P.Choudhary, Sub Inspector/NDRF were amongst those present.
disaster mgmt scr5

CRS to hold probe into Puvanur derailment

Track Restoration works were carried out in full swing and rail traffic was restored within few hours of the accident near Poovanur Railway station at Vriddhachalam
Track Restoration works were carried out in full swing and rail traffic was restored within few hours of the accident near Poovanur Railway station at Vriddhachalam

Puvanur (PVN): Having inspected the spot where the Chennai Egmore–Mangalore Express derailed near Puvanur in the Villupuram–Tiruchi chord line section recently, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Southern Circle, S.K. Mittal will conduct a full-fledged inquiry into the accident on September 8.

Mr. Mittal will conduct the statutory probe at the railway officers’ rest house in Villupuram and inquire officials from different departments of the Southern Railway.

The CRS comes under the administrative control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation dealing with matters pertaining to safety of rail travel and train operations. One of the functions of the CRS is to probe accidents of trains carrying passengers which are of serious nature.

Railway sources told that railway officials, including those from the engineering and electrical departments, would be questioned. Top railway officers from Southern Railway headquarters and Tiruchi Railway Division would be present.

The Loco Pilot, Assistant Loco Pilot and Guard of the Chennai Egmore – Mangalore Express are also expected to be inquired.

Ahead of the probe, the statements of officials of different railway departments would be taken on Monday and presented before the CRS, said the sources.

Accompanied by top railway officers, Mr. Mittal inspected the site hours after the accident to assess the extent of damage to track and overhead electrical equipment besides the coaches which went off the track.

Southern Railway authorities have appealed to the public to share any information about the accident with the CRS

CRS Bangalore launch probe into Chennai Egmore-Mangalore express derailment

Chennai Egmore Mangalore derailmentTiruchi: The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Bengaluru, S.K.Mittal, launched an inquiry into the Chennai Egmore-Mangalore express train derailment near Vriddhachalam on Friday.

Accompanied by the Additional General Manager, Southern Railway, R.Venkadasamy, Tiruchi Divisional Railway Manager A.K.Agarwal and other senior officers, the CRS inspected the accident spot. The CRS inquiry would be in depth to ascertain the cause of the accident – the first major one to be reported in the jurisdiction of Tiruchi Railway Division in the current financial year, the sources said.

Restoration work

Top railway sources said about 100 personnel from the engineering department and 30 from the electrical side were involved in the massive restoration works that commenced a few hours after the accident.

About 500 metres of track had been damaged due to the derailment which also caused damage to five overhead electrical equipment masts in the energised section, a top railway officer said.

A couple of tower wagons were pressed into service for the overhead power restoration work. Railway officials said the operation would be completed by 8 p.m.

Railway sources said the three air-conditioned coaches which derailed were re-railed at different time intervals by the technical personnel. The other two coaches that moved out of the track could not be re-railed, the sources added.

Derailments of two Passengers Trains irks Railways, casualties averted

In the North, Jaipur-Chennai Express derails at Jaipur Junction while in the South, Chennai-Mangalore Central Express derails near Poovanur Station

Jaipur / Chennai:  The engine of Jaipur-Chennai Express was derailed at the Jaipur junction on Thursday. A major accident was averted since the speed of the train was slow. Bayana passenger train which was coming just after the Jaipur-Chennai train, was stopped mid-way which was running at it’s schedule time. According to information the Jaipur-Chennai express was had arrived at platform number 4 of the Jaipur junction at 6 am but soon after it derailed. No casualties or injuries were reported as all carriages were safe. The main reason behind the mishap was a crack in the railway track. However, the railway in-charge denied that there was any cracks in the tracks. Due to this five wheels of the engine were derailed. After getting information, the Railway officer in-charge reached at the accident site and the derailed engine was replaced with a new one. Bayana passenger train on the other hand, reached the station half an hour late from its scheduled time.

In an other incident, at least 38 passengers, including 25 women, were injured when Train No. 16859 Chennai Egmore-Mangalore Central Express derailed near Poovanur railway station in Tiruchi Division around 2 am on Friday. Cuddalore Collector S Suresh Kumar met the injured at the hospital. Railway officials began restoration work. Derailed coaches have been removed off the tracks.  Police have ruled out sabotage in this incident.  Most of the injured passengers treated as out-patients at Vridhachalam Government Hospital. One woman admitted with shoulder injury. Some passengers who preferred not to continue journey moved to Salem, Tiruchi and Villuppuram by special buses by the State Government. All trains heading to Chennai Egmore from southern Tamil Nadu were detained at various stations in Tiruchi division, railway sources said.

The frequency of railway accidents in India has always remained a cause of concern in a country where estimated 23 million people use the service every day.

Penukonda Tragedy: None attends Public Hearing

CRS Enquiry should have been held at Penukonda Railway Station or at the Punukonda MRO office on Guntakal Division where the mishap occurred, not of Bangalore – opines public.

Train Accident EnquiryBangalore: Not a single public witness showed up to depose before the Commissioner for Railway Safety on Thursday as the official inquiry into the Bangalore-Nanded Express accident, a granite-laden truck had rammed the train after breaking a level-crossing barrier, began.

The accident, which occurred on Monday past the Penukonda Junction in Anantapur district, claimed the lives of five people, including an MLA Venkatesh Naik from Karnataka and a railway employee.

As part of the inquiry, a public notice was issued by the CRS who asked for people with information to come and depose before him on Thursday.

“No one came. We wrapped up the hearing a little while back,” said S.K. Mittal, CRS, on Thursday evening.

However, government officials and railway employees completed their depositions on Thursday. “We finished interviewing government and railway officials. I will submit a preliminary report on the incident,” Mr. Mittal said. Statements of the government officials concerned and the railway employees related to the incident, including staff posted at the level crossing, station master and locomotive pilots, were recorded on Thursday. S K Mittal, the CRS, said that the next step would be to submit a preliminary inquiry report.

He appealed to the public who have information about the incident to depose. “If they cannot come here, they can always write to me. The preliminary report can always be modified if more information comes to light,” he said.

Safety experts and public questioned the way CRS enquiry conducted at Bangalore. ‘It should have been held at Penukonda Railway Station or at the Punukonda MRO office, instead of Bangalore, opines Public. Interestingly many tweets came up on the internet asking why Railways have not summoned the Quarry owner, the labourers or the local village people and the local administration during the enquiry.  This shows lack of professionalism in conducting enquiries, expressed netizens.

When CRS conducting enquiry Locomotive engine, compartment derail at Bengaluru Railway station

Striking coincidence of an accident again occurred when CRS conducting enquiry at City Railway Station premises yesterday, i.e. days after Nanded express derailed near Penukonda after a granite truck rammed into, killing five including truck assistant, locomotive engine and a general compartment of Prashanti express, arriving to city from Guwahati derailed in platform 3 of City railway station on Friday noon.  No casualties are reported. The accident took place when train, 20 minutes late to schedule time, arrived to platform 3 around 12.30pm.

Sabotage Angle not ruled-out in Bangalore City-Nanded Express Train Accident

Penugonda: On Monday, a truck carrying the 17-tonne granite block rammed into the H1 air-conditioned coach of the Bangalore City-Nanded Express resulting in the death of five persons including an MLA from Karnataka.

A lot of questions are arising out of this incident all across. Was the driver of the granite laden truck intentionally hit the speeding Bangalore City-Nanded express train at the Level crossing gate near Penugonda on the fateful night? Answer seems to be yes for sure, as it is reliably learnt from the labourers working in the quarry where from the 10-wheeled granite laden heavy truck started off its journey, opined that the driver of the truck used to regularly glorify terror attacks the world over. He used to also view different videos of terror attacks on his mobile regularly, and on that fateful day of accident, evidences are coming out that the driver showed the World Trade Centre terror attack at New York video to few of his fellow labourers. He also had a quarrel with some labourers on that fateful day, and heated conversations went on.. says the labourers working at the quarry. It is also reliably learnt that the driver manhandled the cleaner on that fateful night near a tea stall.  Bystanders who witnessed the quarrel some 1 km away from the the accident said that while having cigarette near a tea stall minutes before the accident occurred, driver hurled abuses on the cleaner and hit him. All these facts prove that the driver might have rammed the vehicle intentionally, and cleverly jumped off the truck few seconds before the lorry hit the approaching super fast train.

quarry siteInvestigating agencies have to bring out the real facts out in this harrowing incident and must find out whether the driver had intentionally rammed the granite laden heavy truck on to the approaching train so as to cause massive accident and loss of lives.  Fortunately the truck hit the AC Compartment.  Had it crashed onto the Sleeper Class coach or General compartment, then the casualties could have been too high, opined the Railway officials.

This accident between Rangepalli and Penukonda stations resulted in derailment of four coaches and death of five people including Deodurg MLA A Venkatesh Naik.

The Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, Bengaluru, Satish Kumar Mittal, will hold a statutory enquiry into the Monday’s accident involving Bangalore City-Nanded Express train. The inquiry will be held on Thursday at 10 am at the office of the Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru.

Any member of the public having knowledge relating to the incident and desiring to give evidence may do so at the enquiry or may write to the Commissioner of Railway Safety, No.7, Seshadri Road, Gandhinagar, Bengaluru-560009 or fax to 080-22260650.

Contractor offers special puja to ‘killer’ granite stone before removing from the accident site

The killer granite block that ripped through a railway compartment near Penukonda in the district on Monday, received some unexpected attention in the form of a special prayer by a group of contract labour engaged to shift the stone, lying near the railway track.

On Wednesday, railway contractor Venkateswarulu performed a special ‘shanti puja’ before shifting the granite block. The pooja, he said, was performed because the block of granite happened to hit an air-conditioned coach which carries fewer passengers than a regular coach. “It was really shocking as five people lost their lives in the accident. Had the granite block rammed the general coaches, the casualties would have been much more. By hitting an air-conditioned coach, it indirectly helped save more lives,” he said.

The contractor brought with him a priest to perform ‘Jalabhishekam and ‘Kunkuma Archana’. The nearly hour-and-half puja was attended by a few workers and railways staff for which the contractor reportedly bore the expenses.

Only after performing puja, the stone was lifted from the spot where it fell after slicing through the H1 coach of Nanded Express. The truck carrying the large stone is believed to have been out of control on the incline leading to the level crossing and after hitting the gate there, it careened to a side and the stone block then hit the railway compartment sideways, resulting in the deaths of four people in the coach and one in the truck.

One of the labourers at the spot who took part in the stone removal work, K Satyanarayana, said that it was indeed fortunate that the granite block did not kill more people. When contacted about the special puja, local police officials said that they were superstitions that the labourers believed in. However, they denied any knowledge of the incident.

In the end, the granite block was moved a little distance away from the track where it currently lies. Meanwhile, the railway police arrested the truck owner Venkatasubbaiah as they speeded up investigations into the accident.

40% of rail mishaps are at Level Crossings; Time to get rid of all LCs by Railways

Level Crossing imageGuntakal (GTL): With all the technological and innovative prowess India has, yet another tragic railway accident and the death of rail passengers erodes the faith of people in the country’s largest transport system, the Indian Railways. What is surprising is that the Rail Bhavan bureaucracy has not been jolted out of their slumber despite spate of Railway accidents which have taken innocent lives in quick succession.

The Monday accident that killed at least six people including a Congress MLA from Karnataka and injured around 25 has put the focus back on urgent interventions required to get rid of all (manned and unmanned) level crossings from railways tracks.

The incident occurred when a lorry rammed into Bangalore-Nanded Express train at a level crossing leading to derailment of four coaches in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district. Though railways blamed negligence of lorry driver, who broke the level crossing gate & then crashed into the train, for the incident, the transporter cannot shun its responsibility.

Mishaps at level crossings are the biggest killer, accounting for 40% of train accidents and 66% of fatalities, reflecting the cash-strapped railways’ failure to eliminate these crossings by building road-over bridges and road-under-bridges.

The latest data shows that there are 29,487 level crossings, of which around 35% (10,440) are unmanned.

Ironically, the national transporter in last eight years (2008-2015) could eliminate only 1,344 manned crossings and 7,650 unmanned crossings. In 2015-16, railways targets to eliminate 820 unmanned level crossings and 205 manned crossings.

Around 18 accidents on unmanned crossing and three on manned were reported since April 2015 till date. In the last five years, on an average, railways managed to eliminate around 1,000 level crossings and at this pace it will take around 30 years to get rid of such crossings.

The transport behemoth has set a target to eliminate 9,808 level crossings during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) and not adding any new level crossing to the rail network in future. But the task seems ambitious considering the past performance and financial health of the railways as removing one level crossing costs around Rs 4.4 crore.

The high-level committee on safety, headed by Anil Kakodkar, has recommended elimination of all level crossings (manned and unmanned) within five years by setting up a special purpose vehicle (SPV). The panel pegged the cost at Rs 50,000 crore, but said this could be recovered over 7-8 years due to saving in operations and maintenance costs incurred at gates and by having smoother train operations.

Railways minister Suresh Prabhu has termed the elimination of LCs and ‘the construction of ROBs and RUBs as the highest priority.’ He also said that as a short term precaution, the RDSO has been asked to develop a suitable device in consultation with Indian Space Research Organization which would use geo-spatial technology for providing audio-visual warning to road users at unmanned level crossings.

While the country has an well meaning Railway Minister in Suresh Prabhu but he needs to ensure that before we can plan bullet trains and taking railway to a jet age railway safety needs to be given top most priority. I would advocate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should focus his next round of review on railway safety and the government should invite innovators in the country to suggest ways to improve safety on the tracks as every railway accident not only leads to sad loss of innocent lives, it also shakes the faith of the common people in the government as millions are transported by the railways. Besides it also reinforces India’s poor safety record globally.

Cong MLA among Six Persons killed as Truck rams into speeding Train

nanded express lorry damagedGuntakal: A Congress MLA from Karnataka was among six persons killed when a speeding granite-laden truck rammed into Bangalore-Nanded Express train after breaking the gate at a level crossing in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in the wee hours today.

Four bogies of the Nanded-bound train derailed as the truck broke the closed boom gate at Madakasira after “overlooking all safety warnings” and hit the H-1 coach at around 2.20 AM, the Railways said.

Venkatesh Naik, Congress MLA from Deodurg in Raichur district of Karnataka who has been a four-time Lok Sabha MP, was among three passengers killed, officials said, adding the driver of the truck and two railway employees – an AC coach mechanic and an attender – also died in the mishap.

Two injured persons have been shifted to hospital in Bangalore.

However, DIG of Anantapur, K Satyanarayana, said the truck cleaner was among those killed in the mishap while the driver fled. He said it appeared the truck’s brakes had failed, but the actual cause of the accident will be ascertained after an inquiry.

nanded express lorry damaged2The AC bogie was crushed and three sleeper coaches of the train derailed in the incident in Anantapur district, which borders Karnataka and is located around 350 km from Hyderabad.

Railways has ordered an inquiry into the mishap by Commissioner Railway Safety of Southern Circle who will submit the report at the earliest, Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said in Delhi.

Many trains were affected in the section and have been diverted, according to Railway officials.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said it was an unfortunate incident and conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims. He said ex-gratia will be given to the affected.

Cogress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi also expressed anguish over the loss of lives.

In a statement, Railways said the manned level crossing gate was closed to facilitate safe passage of Train No 16594 and red flasher light showing danger was on and continuous siren/hooter was sounded to warn the road users.

Besides, there are speed breakers before the L C Gate and the area is well-lit, it said.

The loaded vehicle approached the level crossing at high speed, broke the closed boom gate and hit the H-1 coach of the running train. The truck driver did not heed to any of the warnings, the Railways said, adding it resulted in derailment of four coaches.

nanded express lorry damaged3The derailment was due to “road lorry hitting the train at closed Level Crossing Gate overlooking all safety warnings,” it said.

Railways Orders an Inquiry Into the Bangalore-Nanded Train Accident

Railways today ordered an inquiry into the Bangalore-Nanded train accident in Ananatapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Commissioner Railway Safety of Southern Circle has been asked to conduct the probe and submit the report at the earliest, Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said.

A speeding granite-laden truck rammed into Bangalore-Nanded Express train after breaking the closed gate at a level crossing in Anantapur district in the early hours today killing six persons and injuring two.

Blaming the truck driver for the mishap, the spokesperson said it was a manned level crossing and the driver broke the level crossing gate and hit the train.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu condoled the death of passengers in the “unfortunate” accident.

Ex-gratia will be given to the affected, he tweeted and also asked senior officials including General Manager of the region to rush to the spot.

“We are expecting the line to be cleared for traffic by 4 PM and till then trains would be diverted due to the mishap,” Mr Saxena said.

Railways has also made several helplines operational to help families of the victims.

Helpline Numbers set up in connection with the derailment of Train No. 16594 Bangalore – H.S.Nanded Express between Rangepalli and Penukonda Stations of Bangalore Division, South Western Railway are given below for information of passengers.

Helpline Numbers:

A) South Western Railway

Help line desk at Bangalore City Railway Station:

080 22354108

09731666751

080 22156553

Help line desk at Bangalore Cantonment:

080 2333 9163

Help line desk at Hindupur Station:

08556220444

Help line desk at Penukonda Station:

08555-220244

Help line number at accident spot:

09701374062

09493548005

09448090399

00873-763945549.

B) South Central Railway:

1.Anantapur :- 09100992941, 09676903449; 08554-236444

2.Dharmavaram: – 08559-222555

3.Guntakal:- 09676903466

4.Yadgir:- 078999300084; 08473250365

5.Tandur:- 08411-272010

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Logjam ends: Seven Hyderabad Metro Stations Get The Go-ahead From Fire Department

Fire SafetyHyderabad: The long-standing logjam between the Disaster Response and Fire Services Department and the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited over fire permission for Metro stations came to an end with the fire department finally giving the go ahead to seven of the stations between Nagole and Mettuguda on Wednesday.

For nearly three years, the department had claimed that the construction of stations do not conform to the National Building Code (NBC) to which the Fire Services Act is totally adhered to. It had even issued notices to the HMRL directing a change in design of the stations.

On the other hand, the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) have been sticking to the Delhi Metro Act 2002. The Union government in 2012 had even issued a gazette notice extending the Delhi Metro Act to the HMR’s construction here. The issue of fire permission, however, was kept hanging till the Telangana government issued a GO in favour of the HMR three months ago.

Now, the fire authorities have granted  permission to the HMR which has adhered to the National Fire Protection Association standards, a code followed in the United States of America. “The issue is that of exit routes in case of a fire accident in an overhead station. NBC says the exit should be within six metres from one end of the station platform and that there should be two such exits on both sides of the station, but here we have it about 30 metres away. Inspections were held last year and permissions were denied,” said a senior fire department official.

Speaking for his side, NVS Reddy, managing director, HMRL, said: “The issue has been resolved as authorities are satisfied with the fire precautions in place. We have stuck to NFPA which is a set of international guidelines and tougher than NBC.” Moreover, all metro rails including Delhi metro rail follows NFPA, he added. According to him, the decisions were taken at the highest level of governance and thus does not involve any bypass of rules. The process of sanctioning fire permission for rest of the stations are to be started soon.

Bhopal Divisional authorities still Groping in Dark for possible Cause of Accident

eyes-in-the-dark1 (1)Harda/Bhopal: Even though the railways announced completion of the rescue operation on Wednesday evening nearly 40 hours after the unprecedented twin derailment 18 kms off Harda station the Bhopal Divisional Railway authorities were still groping in the dark for possible cause of the accident.

At least 34 people died and 70 others were injured after seven coaches of Mumbai-Varanasi Kamayani Express and five bogies of Patna-Mumbai Janata Express capsized while crossing a swollen Machak river on Tuesday night.

The Railway authorities claimed to have rescued over 300 persons but the toll could still go up as several passengers were feared to have been washed away in the gushing waters. Some bodies were recovered from over a mile away from the mishap site. A survivor of Kamayni Express mishap, AkhileshPratap Singh said he along with nearly 100 passengers, travelling in the general class coach managed to reach a hilltop to safety.

Madhya Pradesh Public Relation Department Commissioner AnupamRajan said the dead included 10 women and five children and 11 members of a family going to Shirdi.

West Central Railway spokesperson Piyush Mathur said parts of the two trains plunged into the river as the base material below the track was washed away in floods triggered by heavy rain.

The Commissioner of Railway Safety (Central Zone) will conduct the probe. However, VK Gupta, one of the members of the railway board who visited the site said this was one of the freakiest accidents he had come across. The surprising part was the rise of water level by over four metres in less than 10 minutes between the safe crossing of the previous train and the ill-fated ones.Gupta said the accident could have led to a worse scenario.

Lemuel Lall, a journalist who visited the spot on Wednesday said one of the suspected causes was the abrupt application of brake by the driver of Kamayani Express which was running at a high speed and was signalled to halt by the guard of the slow moving Janata Express.

The unusually sharp braking apparently shook the base below the track that was loosened by flowing water. The track was not inspected in the evening and damage caused by heavy rains went unnoticed. Although the accident site was just over 18 kms from Harda station it took over 30 minutes for the information to reach there. Initial rescue operations were hampered by incessant rain and poor visibility. But the army rushed to the spot and with the help of civilians rescued nearly 250 passengers averting a bigger loss of lives.

A state government official said the rescue operations began in right earnest only after the National Disaster Response Force(NDRF) team arrived at the scene nearly two hours after the derailment.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to those who suffered serious injuries, and said the accident was caused by a natural calamity and couldn’t have been prevented.

According to another version, the embankment of a pond breached due to sudden release of water from a dam near Aamkhal could have caused the flash flood. The railway official, however, did not confirm any such breach.

There was a war of words between the railways and the meteorological department over the disaster. While the met office says it had warned of heavy rainfall in the affected region the railways denied any such information. The met office said the warning was sent to the divisional railway manager’s (DRM) office on Tuesday morning.

Political games instantly began with the Congress and AamAdmi party squarely blaming Suresh Prabhu for the absence of safety in the railways and demanding his resignation.

At least 23 trains were cancelled for over two days. This is the second disruption of rail traffic in less than a fortnight within the radius of 100 kms of Itarsi, one of the key junctions of Central Indiathat routes rail traffic across the length and breadth of the country.

More than 3,200 express trains were cancelled between June 17 and July 23 resulting in 50,000 ticket refunds per day losses over Rs 1,230 crore.

A major fire that destroyed the route relay interlocking (RRI) cabin at Itarsi. The RRI cabin that was due for replacement in 1998 was continued with for over 17 years. The RRI accident also could have been avoided if a smoke detector been installed.

Over 300 Accidents in 4 Years: Railway Staff were to blame in 7 cases out of 10 cases

The government defines “consequential accidents” as those with “serious repercussions in terms of loss of human life, human injury, loss to railway property or interruption to rail traffic” (Source: Parliament statement, March 16, 2015)

Accidents-ReasonsNew Delhi: All figures except those for ‘Cost of damage’ and ‘Compensation paid’ are for “consequential train accidents (excluding incidents at unmanned level crossings caused due to negligence of road vehicle users)”.

The government defines “consequential accidents” as those with “serious repercussions in terms of loss of human life, human injury, loss to railway property or interruption to rail traffic”. Figures for 2014-15 are up to February 2015. Figures for ‘Cost of damage’ are for “consequential train accidents”. Figures for ‘Compensation paid’ are for “train accidents, untoward incidents, accidents at manned level and unmanned level crossings”. Figures for 2014-15 are provisional.

Accidents Chart

What solutions are available for disaster management?

Tackling Derailments: Prabhu’s speech for the Rail Budget 2015-2016 primarily concentrated on three key safety issues. Curbing derailments was one of them. The minister had promised primary track renewals with “modern track structure consisting of sleepers and heavier rails”, as well as better welding techniques. He had also proposed replacing analog machines with digital ones for testing of tracks.

This was similar to what Bansal had proposed: upgradation of track structure using 60 kg rails, 260 meter long welded rail-panels and improved flash butt welding technology. He had also claimed that 17 bridges identified as distressed had already been sanctioned for rehabilitation within the next one year. It is not known whether the Machak river bridge was on that list.

Accidents at level crossings: The major aspect of railway safety which both Bansal and Prabhu stressed in their respective speeches was the high number of accidents at level crossings.  Describing it as a ‘disquieting issue’ Bansal had asked for an increase in the Railways share in the Central Road Fund from the then allocation of Rs 1,100 crore to a required amount of ‘almost Rs 5,000 crore’. He had also requested increased allocation to the Railway Safety Fund. He had cited a cost of Rs 37,000 crores for eliminating 31,846 LCs, out of which 13,530 are unmanned.

Prabhu suggested more high-tech reforms, saying that the elimination of LCs and ‘the construction of Road over Bridges (ROBs) and Road under Bridges (RUBs) was the Railways’ highest priority. He also said that as a short term precaution, the RDSO has been asked to develop a suitable device in consultation with Indian Space Research Organization. This device would use geo-spatial technology for providing audio-visual warning to road users at unmanned level crossings.

Collisions: Prabhu promised to “install Train Protection Warning System and Train Collision Avoidance System on select routes at the earliest”. Bansal, too, had promised the same.

The major step taken by the UPA government was to set up a Railway safety committee under Anil Kakodkar in 2012-13. Bansal in his speech had said that the ministry had sanctioned some of the committee’s recommendations for implementation, while rest were under consideration. Prabhu promised to review all pending recommendations by the Kakodkar Committee over the next five years.

Outlook: In the past three Railway Budgets (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16), Bansal’s tenure saw 2,885 track renewals while Prabhu has set a target of 2,500 renewals. The NDA’s first major rail budget has also concentrated more on the upkeep and beautification of railway stations and coaches, with a greater stress on passenger amenities and digitisation of railway resources and services.

Goods train derails on Khurda Road Division of ECOR, trains diverted

derailmentNaraj Marthapur (NQR): A wagon of a goods train derailed at Marthapur in Cuttack district today, disrupting train traffic between Naraj and Dhenkanal in Odisha.

No one was injured in the accident involving the goods train which was carrying coal from Talcher to Jamanjodi in Koraput district.

Senior railway officials rushed to the spot and made arrangements for resumption of normal train services on the route by undertaking repair works, the officials said, adding services were restored five hours after the derailment.

However, some passenger trains like Bhubaneswar-Bolangir Inter City, Sambalpur-Puri Inter City and Angul-Puri Passenger had to be diverted through Nirgundi.

Lack of Smart & Dynamic Leadership on Bhopal Division is the Key Reason for regular Disasters

“You are rated not on how fast you have reacted and restored the things, post-disaster; but is rated on how fast you have identified such mishap-prone areas in your normal functions and have tried to fix them in time” says a well known Disaster Management expert.

leadership teamIndian Railways should start examining the efficiency aspects of the Officials working in Bhopal Division due to its geographical importance that which connects the entire South India with the North. Notwithstanding the fact that the Bhopal Division had turned out to be geographically an errant Division on Indian Railways in the recent past due to multiple disasters, a statement was given by the Railway Board Chief on the twin train mishap stating it is a natural calamity, there is no fault of Railways.

However Railways’ forceful statement on this major accident NOT a correct explanation, says disaster management experts.  It would not be an inappropriate thing to dwell into the personal capabilities of the leadership traits of officials posted on WCR’s Bhopal Division importantly – a bunch of lethargic team, observes an international Rail Disaster Management expert from New Delhi.

Any railway accident is lamentable, but more so when it could have been prevented with a little foresight and proper communication. The two trains that derailed on a rickety bridge which was flooded in Madhya Pradesh fall into this category. As usual, we see arguments, even from former railway ministers about why India should not focus on bullet trains when it has not done enough about the upgrade and safety of the existing system. This is not an either-or situation. While bullet trains should be introduced where feasible, the existing network should be constantly upgraded and monitored.

“Regular monsoon patrolling was not being done between Khirki and Bhirangi section as the officials did not find it vulnerable to accidents in rainy season going by the past history,” a top Railway officer said. “We do regular monsoon patrolling only in the areas which are prone to accidents due to rains. This was not the case with this section,” he said, preferring anonymity.

He was asked when was the last time the ill-fated spot of the section, some 25km from the district headquarters, was inspected. However, he hurriedly added that Assistant Engineer A K Pandey of Harda, had inspected the spot, some 150km from Bhopal, about 20 minutes before the derailments took place. “There is no water body or dam in the upstream of the spot as per our records. I think a flash flood washed away the earth and other materials underneath of the tracks, resulting in the accidents,” he added. The flash flood may have been caused due to a breach in some water body (dam) about which we (Railway) have not been told by district authorities, he contended. However, Bhopal Division PRO I A Siddique denied that regular monsoon patrolling was not carried out on the ill- fated section. “We do patrolling in each and every section without taking vulnerability into account,” he added.

WCR General Manager Ramesh Chandra and Bhopal DRM Alok Kumar couldn’t be contacted despite several attempts.

The recent major fire accident in RRI/Itarsi had caused a loss of more than Rs.1300 Crore to the Indian Railways which came as a major shocker for IR. How fast you have restored the RRI could never be the parameter to judge the efficiency of the Division’s performance.  Being self-assured and assertive is acceptable, but when it comes to public services, being  so much confident without being aggressive in efficiency aspects is unpardonable.  Not only the RRI incident, various minor scale technical glitches on the Division are on high side in the recent past, operating efficiency overall has come down drastically, internal politics in the work force are becoming disastrous impediments for proper administrative and operational efficiency in the workforce related areas which clearly speaks about workforce mismanagement; DAR Cases are on the rise in the Division, leave alone the twin train disaster on the Railway Bridge that took toll of more than 30 people in the dark mid night due to bridge collapsing – all which put together unarguably speaks about the efficiency of workforce, officials, and its key decision-making leadership who all lacked proper dynamism and smart functional capabilities put together.

Railway Ministry’s claim that “minutes before the bogies of the twin trains derailed near Harda in MP, Pawan Express had crossed the same bridge and hence there is no fault on part of Railways” is not essentially an proper assertion – an act of resorting to ‘all-normal’ philosophy.  It would be pertinent to mention here that the Engineering branch had not even identified the bridge location could be vulnerable and will be prone to any untoward/worst climatic situations, despite importantly being located in the downstream stretches of a large reservoir and catchment areas in the vicinity.

Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha, said there was no physical evidence of any tampering. He said before bogies of the two trains derailed, Pawan Express had crossed the same railway culvert. “Due to heavy downpour the soil under the track got washed away resulting into the accident”, he said.

Knowing the loose soil conditions in that particular stretch of Bhopal Division, he should also explain why his bunch of laggards failed to analyse the same.  Surprisingly, there is no history of examining any proposal on role of geosynthetics in soil strengthening in such vulnerable localities in Bhopal Division by the Engineering Branch.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu have said that Harda train accident was a natural calamity caused by heavy rains, adding that the Commissioner of Railway Safety will investigate it in detail the reasons behind the mishap, he told newspersons in the presence of MOSR Manoj Sinha, and other senior railway officials, who failed to reach the accident site in Harda due to heavy rains, as they claim.  However Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who returned from Harda and met Suresh Prabhu and Manoj Sinha at Bhopal, said weather condition in Harda had worsened so much that the chopper could not land in the town or nearby. How can a common man buy this irresponsible statement by the Railway Minister himself?

Rejecting allegations about railway’s fault, Prabhu said he was waiting for the investigation report. However Suresh Prabhu should remember that he is easily falling in the clever trap of Railway Board official versions, which are wrong and unforgivable. Suresh Prabhu must remember that he is getting estranged from NDA’s core agenda of improving/revamping Railway System as a whole due to such comments.

Around 23 million people use the railway network each day and this makes it imperative that modernisation is an ongoing process. Lack of sufficient budget is a valid reason, but this can be remedied if the government is ready to bite the political bullet.

The answer lies in raising passenger fares at periodic intervals and not just freight charges. But passenger fare is a political hot potato and one which is perceived as having the potential to alienate voters if hiked now and again. It is no secret that vast tracts of tracks are outdated and pose a danger to traffic.

Level-crossings are often not manned and coaches lack fire safety measures. The skills of the huge workforce, which run the railways, too must be upgraded along with the infrastructure. The railways has, by the admission of successive ministers, large reserves of real estate. These have to be put to productive use or disposed off to raise revenues.

In keeping with the government’s push for Digital India, what the railways urgently need is better technology. This can prevent so many man-made errors. This can be used for early warning about dangers on the tracks, oncoming rail traffic and smoother coordination in the huge and sprawling network.

It is true that in recent years, ticketing has improved by leaps and bounds, thanks to technology. But alongside, there have been allegations of the tracks being damaged due to reckless overloading of freight.

A thorough overhaul of the tracks should be the first priority now that two accidents have happened, and so many lives lost, simply because of poor maintenance. The on-again, off-again proposal to privatise sections of the railways should be examined afresh as this might relieve some of the load on the government and improve services.

Unlike in previous mishaps, this time around, the authorities have launched rescue and relief operations promptly. But once this incident has ceased to be news, plans to minimise such mishaps should not get derailed as has happened in the past.

Railways unaware of Bridge condition; never identified it so ‘vulnerable’: CRB

Harda twin train mishap on bridgeHarda (HD): Hours after the twin derailment in Madhya Pradesh that claimed many lives, Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal on Wednesday said the railways and particularly its Engineering Branch on WCR were caught unawares as neither the track location nor the nearby reservoir were marked as ‘vulnerable’ to flash floods that caused the mishaps.

Arguing that there was no failure on railways’ part, as usual, the Railway Board Chief said the bridge where Kamayani Express derailed is still intact. “There are bridges which are 100 years old, but they are absolutely safe for train operations,” he said.  Mittal said the track location was not marked as ‘vulnerable’ in Bhopal division’s disaster plan adding that no incident of flash flood or any other natural calamity was witnessed in the area earlier.

Two express trains—Kamayani Express and Janata Express — derailed within seven minutes of each other after flash floods washed away portion of soil under the tracks in Madhya Pradesh.

Mittal said even nine minutes before the twin tragedy, spot train movement was absolutely normal and two trains — Pawan Express and another passenger train – coming from opposite direction had crossed that section.

Mittal said Janata Express reached the spot 7-8 minutes after the derailment of Kamayani Express. The train was stopped before reaching the bridge as a supervisor sitting in the loco noticed massive water flow on the track.

However, Mittal said despite being stationary, Janata Express got derailed as a sudden flow of water took away soil from below the track. “Even six inch tilt of rail track can cause derailment,” he told.

There were conflicting versions on the number of casualties in the twin mishaps involving Varanasi-bound Kamayani Express from Mumbai and Mumbai-bound Janata Express that originated from Patna.

While railway minister Suresh Prabhu said at least 12 passengers were killed and 25 injured in the accidents, the local administration put the toll at 29.

Mittal clarified that 12 bodies had been recovered from train coaches by railway authorities involved in relief and rescue operations. He said the local administration may have recovered bodies from nearby waterlogged areas. The bodies would be verified to ascertain whether they were passengers or other flood victims.

Deadly Derailment of Two Trains presents the Sorry Dichotomy of India’s Rail Ambitions

A man-made tragedy?

The deadly derailment of two trains in Madhya Pradesh presents the sorry dichotomy that marks India’s rail ambitions: the inability to run a safe, dependable and comfortable railway system on the one hand, and aspirations to move to flashy bullet trains on the other. It may be argued that, prima facie, negligence on the part of the railways was not responsible for the horror that visited the Janta Express bound for Mumbai and the Kamayani Express proceeding to Varanasi.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has said preliminary information pointed to floodwaters from a dam washing tracks away. If that is true, what becomes evident is the absence of a safety protocol to handle operations during extreme weather, particularly at vulnerable points such as bridges — of which there are over 35,000 that are over a hundred years old in the railway system. It is imperative that the government pays sufficient attention to the question, and institute a specialist safety agency of the kind suggested by the Kakodkar Committee, tasked with the preparation of a time-bound action plan to avert derailments and collisions. In the current year, up to June 2015, there have been 15 derailments, and the numbers have shown a rising trend over the last couple of years.

Though the minister of state for railways said it was an act of nature many questions are being asked, one of them being whether the tragedy was manmade. Indian Railways does not have a good track record with regard to maintenance. Nothing much seems to have changed on this score since the new government came in; there has been more talk of wi-fi and five-star packaged food and other such amenities. Some of the people interviewed at the site said the government focuses only on trains like the Shatabdi and Rajdhani, patronised by the well-off, and “leaves the others to God”. If there is any truth in this, the rail minister should change this perception. Till then we have to wait to know, especially about when these particular tracks were last examined.

As the national mobility lifeline — used heavily by the ‘uncomplaining millions’ as Mahatma Gandhi called less affluent passengers — it is vital for the railways to make safety the top operational priority. The Kakodkar Committee concluded that with constant pressure on finances, maintenance of infrastructure has been hit. To serve the objective better, the mechanism to review safety should be made statutorily independent. Design of coaches plays an important part in reducing death and disability due to accidents; India’s train coaches, however, are far from modern, leave alone being world-class; they require a paradigm shift in terms of ergonomics, use of materials and build quality. In a fast-developing country with an enormous reserve of manpower, modernising on a short time-scale should not be difficult.

On the question of safety, it needs to be emphasised that the railways cannot exist in a vacuum. State governments must bear responsibility for the safety and monitoring of the physical terrain through which trains run, and be prepared to handle disasters. The decision to release water from a dam, for instance, cannot be taken without heed to the downstream consequences. Again, accident victims must have access to medical facilities. But, prolonged neglect of the public health system in most States offers little hope that things can be turned around quickly. These derailments once again turn the spotlight on many things that are wrong and need urgent attention.

President of India condoles the loss of lives on account of derailment of trains in MP

President of IndiaNew Delhi: The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has condoled the loss of lives on account of derailment of Kamayani Express and Janata Express trains in Madhya Pradesh yesterday night (August 4, 2015).

In a message to Shri Ram Naresh Yadav, the Governor of Madhya Pradesh, the President has said “I am sad to learn about the derailment of the Kamayani Express and Janata Express trains in Madhya Pradesh last night as a result of which a number of persons have lost their lives and many are injured. I understand rescue as well as relief operations are currently underway.

I call upon the State Government and Railway authorities to provide all possible assistance to the bereaved families as well as the best of medical attention to the injured. I urge the concerned authorities to urgently investigate the cause of the incident and put in place necessary remedial measures.

Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to all the injured persons”.

The mishap took place at Kudwa, about 18km from the district headquarters Harda, which is between Bhirangi and Khirakia railway stations.

Twin Train Derailments in Harda: Loco Pilots of earlier trains didn’t detect any problem

Harda accident site twinHarda (HD): Railways today ordered an inquiry into the twin train derailments in Harda in Madhya Pradesh which have left 27 passengers dead and ordered compensation for the families of the victims.

Commissioner Railway Safety (Central Zone) will conduct an inquiry into the accidents, Railway Spokesperson Anil Saxena said.
He said though prime facie flash floods caused the derailment of these two trains, the real cause will be ascertained after the submission of the inquiry report.
The official said just eight minutes before the accident, two trains had crossed that section and drivers of these trains did not detect any problem.
The spokesperson said that rescue operations at the site are almost over.
Appreciating the efforts of villagers near the accident spot, he said they reached the site first and assisted in the relief and rescue operations.
Accident relief train equipped with doctors, paramedics and medicines is at the spot. As the condition of roads is bad due to incessant rains, it took some time for rescue teams to reach the accident site.