It was Loco Pilot of Jodhpur Express who nudged Rajdhani off the track

It was Jodhpur Express that nudged Rajdhani off the trackThe inquiry has found that the Rajdhani rake was not fastened to the rails by iron skids nor were the brakes engaged

Bangalore (SBC):  A little over a month after the Rajdhani Express went off the tracks and bumped into the road near the railway quarters at Majestic, providing a jaw-dropping experience for residents, an inquiry has nailed the lie that the derailment was a freak mishap which occurred on its own. Three coaches of the Bangalore-Nizamuddin train had derailed on November 24 last year, but luckily there were no casualties as passengers had exited the coaches.

The report submitted by senior divisional safety officer Praveen Pandey has concluded that the derailment occurred when the Jodhpur Express was being shunted (pushed from the main line to a side line) to the same pit line (used for checking and repairing coaches) occupied by the Rajdhani. It has recommended strict action against three shunting loco pilots for lapses in best practices.

A series of procedural lapses triggered the derailment, the report found. For one, the shunting locomotive pilot of the Jodhpur Express while reversing went 30 meters more than the available space on the pit line to hit the Rajdhani Express. Second, in another lapse, the Rajdhani rake with its 18 coaches was stationary on the pit line without being fastened to the rails by iron skids and chains to avoid rollback. And third, the Rajdhani coaches were kept in the released state instead of the recommended braked state.

The preliminary report has already been submitted to divisional railway manager (DRM) Anil Kumar Agarwal. It further pointed fingers at the communication gap. “Due to the communication gap, the shunting loco pilot of Jodhpur Express pushed the rakes more and the Rajdhani coaches ran away from the pit line and derailed,” the report said. The enquiry found that the walkie-talkie sets supplied were of poor quality as voice did not travel beyond a distance spanning 20 coaches. “At least five men with flags are to be deployed to signal the shunting loco pilots and to travel in the last coach. But due to staff shortage, the railways is fully relying on walkie-talkies. This is not a foolproof system,” sources said.

Sr.DSO/Bangalore Division said, “The report for taking action against those responsible has been submitted to the DRM. There was no proper communication between the three shunting pilots. According to the schedule of that day, the Rajdhani was shunted first. It was the turn of Jodhpur Express next. After Jodhpur, the Hampi Express had to be shunted to the same pit line once Rajdhani was removed. But Jodhpur went ahead 30 meters more than the required space and hit the Rajdhani, causing the derailment.”  Pandey added: “If shunting loco pilots were not able to hear anything through walkie-talkies, then they should have stopped reversing the rakes. It is standard practice to stop if you are confused. But these shunting pilots went ahead. All three were experienced pilots who had undergone various training processes.”

But a contrarian voice has come from C Sunish, General Secretary, All India Loco Running Staff Association (SWR), who demanded deployment of senior shunting loco pilots. “The incident occurred because of inexperienced loco pilots were deployed for the job,” he said. The short span of training hampered their performance, particularly since the Bangalore city station yard featured complicated layout and signals, he said.