नागोथाने Nagothane (NGTN): Poor maintenance of railway tracks along Nagothane-Roha section of the Central Railway resulted in the derailment of Diva-Sawantwadi Road passenger train, which claimed 21 lives and injured 124 passengers on Sunday, said railway sources.
The engine and four coaches fell off the tracks after derailing between Nagothane and Roha on Sunday. Another coach was partially derailed. While loco pilot of the train, Srinivas Rao and a spare loco pilot Govind Solunkhe suffered minor injuries, assistant loco pilot Deepak Kumar suffered serious injuries. All three are admitted in Kalyan Railway Hospital.
“Negligence on part of engineering department while maintaining welded rails has led to the fracture of tracks that caused the derailment,” said a senior railway official. The Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) had recently detected a flaw in the welded rails along the accident spot, following which joggled fish plates were used to protect the rails, said the CR officer.
A joggled fish plate is a curved metal plate fixed on both sides of the welded rail as an emergency measure. A speed restriction of 20kmph until the rails are completely replaced is to be maintained, as per the the Permanent Way Manual of the Indian Railways.
The train was travelling at a speed of 60kmph at the time of the accident, confirmed another CR officer.
When factory made welded rail is damaged, railways use Alumino Thermit Welding to join the two rails again.
During the site inspection on Sunday, officials found that the the rails at the accident spot had Alumino Thermit Welding as well as joggled fish plates. This, officers, say, indicates that the rail had suffered flaws repeatedly and required immediate replacement.
Officials say that while use of joggled fish plates is a “temporary measure”, the railways should have replaced damaged welded rails again in time. “Earlier a 13metre rail was joined with another rail using fish plates. However, due to repeated thefts and sabotages by miscreants, two rails were joined permanently by welding at manufacturing stage,” said the railway officer. A factory made 260 metre welded rail is made up of 20 rails, each measuring 13 metres in length.
As per rule, welded rails should be checked regularly by USFD and section engineer along with keyman and gangmen are required to closely patrol and monitor and the welded portion of the rails.
Railway Minster Mallikarjun Kharge visited the accident spot on Monday and later visited a local hospital in Roha and Sion and J.J.Hospital in Mumbai to meet accident victims. He announced that the railways will bear the hospital expenditure of all the injured persons.
The CR restored traffic on the affected section by morning 4am.