Chennai: 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.