The Railway Zone that saw 18 derailments in 3 years gives Clean Chit to Railway Staff

Primary inquiry into the Hirakhand Express mishap gives Clean Chit to Railway Staff

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Hirakhand Express derailment in Kuneru is the biggest mishap in the Waltair division of East Coast Railway (ECoR) since its inception on April 1, 2003.

The commission of railway safety under the Union ministry of civil aviation began its preliminary inquiry into the Hirakhand Express mishap on Monday. Ram Kripal, commissioner of the wing for the southern circle, arrived here from Secunderabad, visited the accident spot and interacted with eyewitnesses and railway officials.

“Based on preliminary feed back from railway staff at Rayagada and Kuneru stations, the team came to the conclusion that the derailment was not the mistake of railway staff. However, the team will conduct a few more exercises to identify the actual reason. Kripal is slated to hold one more meeting with officials in Visakhapatnam at 10.30 am on Tuesday,” a railway source told.

Meanwhile, train services in the Rayagada-Vizianagaram section has been restored. The track was fit for traffic by 4.25 am on Monday.

ECoR’s jurisdiction spreads over Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Until Saturday’s accident, the biggest mishap in the zone was the derailment of Coromandel Express (Howrah-Chennai) near Jaipur road in Odisha in February 2009. As many as 14 coaches had derailed, killing 15 passengers.

According to ECoR officials, 18 derailments have occurred in the zone since April 2014, including eight in Vizag’s Waltair division. “The derailments occurred due to various reasons, including Maoist attack. In the Waltair division, more than 70% derailments occurred in isolated places like the Kotthavalasa-Kirandul railway line. The fault of railway staff is minimal,” said a senior official.

However, when the media visited the Rammurthipanthulapeta Railway Gate at Kancharapalem on Monday , it found fish-plates missing from the track on the ChennaiHowrah main railway Line. The fish-plates were lying nearly two feet away from the railway tracks. A fish-plate joins two rail logs, each of which is 13 metres in length.

When brought this to the notice of authorities, a railway official admitted, “If the fish-plate is not fixed at the joint, it should be taken seriously. They can prevent the intensity of mishaps in case the joint gets damaged.”