Preliminary Report on Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailment on 18 March; final report by August

Bangalore (SBC): CRS will submit his preliminary findings on the Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailment near Anekal on March 18 and the final report before August 18.  Satish Kumar Mittal, Commissioner of Rail Safety, Southern Circle, concluded his extensive two-day inquiry on various aspects pertaining to the mishap on Wednesday. Mittal remained non-committal on any of the findings and said, “It will figure in the preliminary report only.”

A total of 31 individuals, including one member of the public, deposed before the commission.

The 30 officials examined belonged to the commercial, operational, civil engineering and mechanical engineering branches of Bengaluru Railway Division. “All the data has to be analysed, witnesses checked and cross-checked and the final report will be submitted within six months,” the commissioner added.

Nine people were killed and 20 injured in the mishap last Friday.

Driver’s Version

Meanwhile, the loco-pilot behind the wheel when the derailment occurred, A T Fernandes, told the commissioner on Tuesday that he was driving well within the prescribed speed limit on that stretch. According to a source, Fernandes told the inquiry that “he was driving at 50 kmph while the presecribed limit was 65 kmph.”  The driver has been reported as stating that he did not encounter any big boulder but remembered the sound of a few stones getting crushed under the wheels of the train.

It is common to encounter a few stones along the tracks. However, after the driver heard the noise of crumbling stones, the train came to a sudden halt and the derailment occurred, he told the commission. Co-pilot Subramanya was also quizzed.

Meanwhile, the driver’s blood sample test was out on Tuesday and it revealed that he was not drunk, said Suvankar Biswas, chief public relations officer, Bengaluru Division.

20 kmph Limit for Trains

Trains passing through the Anekal-Hosur stretch where the derailment took place will run at 20 kmph from Thursday, General Manager, South Western Railway Division, P K Saxena said. Authorities had made it mandatory for loco-pilots to run trains at 10 kmph along the 400-meter stretch on this route since Saturday afternoon when  operations resumed after a 32-hour stoppage. “In seven days’ time, we hope to make all the trains run at the pre-accident speed of 65 kmph,” he said.  Saxena said metal sleepers were used to restore the tracks as a temporary measure to ensure normalcy in operations. However, trains were asked to pass through the tracks slowly. Metal sleepers weigh 70 kg while concrete sleepers weigh 300 kg. “Work is on to strengthen the tracks with concrete sleepers which will make them strong enough. When this strengthening work is completed, trains will be allowed to run faster,” he added.