Railways unaware of Bridge condition; never identified it so ‘vulnerable’: CRB

Harda twin train mishap on bridgeHarda (HD): Hours after the twin derailment in Madhya Pradesh that claimed many lives, Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal on Wednesday said the railways and particularly its Engineering Branch on WCR were caught unawares as neither the track location nor the nearby reservoir were marked as ‘vulnerable’ to flash floods that caused the mishaps.

Arguing that there was no failure on railways’ part, as usual, the Railway Board Chief said the bridge where Kamayani Express derailed is still intact. “There are bridges which are 100 years old, but they are absolutely safe for train operations,” he said.  Mittal said the track location was not marked as ‘vulnerable’ in Bhopal division’s disaster plan adding that no incident of flash flood or any other natural calamity was witnessed in the area earlier.

Two express trains—Kamayani Express and Janata Express — derailed within seven minutes of each other after flash floods washed away portion of soil under the tracks in Madhya Pradesh.

Mittal said even nine minutes before the twin tragedy, spot train movement was absolutely normal and two trains — Pawan Express and another passenger train – coming from opposite direction had crossed that section.

Mittal said Janata Express reached the spot 7-8 minutes after the derailment of Kamayani Express. The train was stopped before reaching the bridge as a supervisor sitting in the loco noticed massive water flow on the track.

However, Mittal said despite being stationary, Janata Express got derailed as a sudden flow of water took away soil from below the track. “Even six inch tilt of rail track can cause derailment,” he told.

There were conflicting versions on the number of casualties in the twin mishaps involving Varanasi-bound Kamayani Express from Mumbai and Mumbai-bound Janata Express that originated from Patna.

While railway minister Suresh Prabhu said at least 12 passengers were killed and 25 injured in the accidents, the local administration put the toll at 29.

Mittal clarified that 12 bodies had been recovered from train coaches by railway authorities involved in relief and rescue operations. He said the local administration may have recovered bodies from nearby waterlogged areas. The bodies would be verified to ascertain whether they were passengers or other flood victims.