Train derails in Maharashtra, two injured

Nagpur: At least two passengers were injured when eight coaches of a passenger train derailed near Wadsa railway station in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, South East Central Railway officials said today.

The mishap occured at around 10 PM last night when eight coaches, including the engine, of the Godia-Chandra Fort passenger train jumped off the track, they said.

Reasons behind the derailment are yet to be ascertained and an inquiry into the accident will be conducted, officials said.

Meanwhile, train traffic between Gondia and Chandrapur was disrupted because of the derailment, official sources said.

Accident relief trains from Gondia and Kazipet in South Central Railway were pressed into service to lift the derailed engine and coaches.

A 24-year-old passenger, from Lakhani in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district, who was stuck in the washroom of a coach, was extricated in the early hours today, told Pradeep Kumar, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, South Eastern Central Railway, Nagpur Division. Divisional Railway Manager, Nagpur Mr.S.L.Varma, and other officials and engineers visited the derailment site.

SECR rules out sabotage, weld failure caused derailment

Gadchiroli Police PRO D T Joshi said they have no inputs on any foul play by Naxalites in the mishap considering the area is infested by ultras.  The South East Central Railway (SECR) officials engaged in restoration work near Wadegaon in Naxalite-affected Gadchiroli district, 87km from Gondia, have ruled out sabotage behind derailment of Chanda Fort Passenger.

However, senior officials including Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) DC Kochar, Principal Chief Engineer Vedpal, Chief Safety Officer (CSO) P Sahay from the headquarters at Bilaspur and officials from Nagpur inspected the tracks and, prima facie, found that it was a technical failure. But reliable sources said it is a weld failure concerned with the engineering department. This is in keeping with the tendency of the railways not to reveal the exact cause of mishaps.

Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) SL Verma said, “A four-member team will look into the causes of mishap. Our first priority is to restore traffic by clearing the tracks.”

Verma and even senior divisional commercial manager (SrDCM) Pradeep Kumar ruled any human interference. “A police sniffer dog had been summoned at the mishap site to probe the possible Naxal angle but the squad could not give any leads. The spot is very hostile and two 140-tonne cranes are working round-the-clock to remove the derailed coaches,” said Kumar.

Due to heavy rains and slush accumulated along the tracks, restoration work has been affected. The route is not likely to be opened for normal traffic before Tuesday afternoon, said Kumar.

The Gondia-Chanda Fort is a single broad gauge route sans electrification. Some superfast passenger trains also pass through this route. After the mishap, at least six trains, which were to run on July 23, had to be cancelled. Even as the SECR suffered a huge loss towards damage to coaches and restoration expenses, the only solace for the officials was that there was no human loss.

There were hardly 150 passengers in the 13-coach train when the mishap took place. Revenue department officials claimed that four passengers suffered minor injuries but SECR officials claimed lone passenger Manohar Waghdhare (25), who was stuck up in the toilet, was rescued at 3.45am. He has been given Rs5,000 as ex-gratia and has been admitted to a private hospital in Gondia.

Meanwhile, a release issued by district information officer (DIO) said that revenue department officials too pitched in to rescue the stranded passengers and provided government vehicles to transport them to their destinations.