Central Railway (CR) officials believe an error in repairing a technical snag on the CST-bound train might have caused the incident in which ten people sustained burns.
CR has suspended a Traction Suburban Rolling Train Examiner (TSRT), holding the examiner responsible for the incident after a prima facie inquiry.
Sources said a problem cropped up in the train’s vacuum circuit breaker between Mahim and King’s Circle stations. The motorman informed the TSRT, who boarded the train at Wadala station to fix it. However, while rectifying the snag, the TSRT may have made a blunder that caused the transformer to overheat.
The fire broke out at 11.22am on Tuesday, just after the train had pulled into Dockyard Road station. Eyewitnesses said they saw huge flames coming out from under the coach, which burned passengers travelling on the footboard. Some victims also told HT that they saw two liquids — one water-like and one black — oozing out of the floor of the train before the blast took place.
A railway staffer said people panicked as soon as they saw the flames and jumped out of the stationary train, leaving their belongings behind. The injured were rushed to JJ Hospital at Byculla.
Government Railway Police confirmed that a fire had broken out. “Three fire engines called to the spot. They extinguished the fire before the train was shifted to the CST yard at around 12.05pm,” said Sunil Malusare, assistant commissioner of police.
CR officials, however, continued to deny it. “There was no fire,” said VN Malegaokar, chief public relations officer, CR. CR will conduct a departmental inquiry into the incident and Commissioner of Railway Safety will also inspect the train.
The train was one of 10 retrofitted rakes in CR’s fleet, which officials say are prone to several technical issues that have caused them trouble in the past as well.
The incident threw off the Harbour line schedule. Several CST-bound local trains were stuck in a long line beyond Cotton Green station after the fire. Commuters were forced to take either BEST buses or taxis to reach their destinations. Trains ran late by 15-20 minutes and 12 services were cancelled till evening.