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.