A major fire that destroyed the route relay interlocking (RRI) cabin at Itarsi railway station on could have been avoided if a smoke detector been installed, railway officials said.
The railways is likely to incur a loss of more than Rs 1,000 crore until the signalling system is restored by July 22, an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the matter with the media, told Hindustan Times.
“This is an estimated loss. It could either go up or come down.” The movement of trains was badly affected in Bhopal division of West Central Railway after signalling system collapsed following a fire in RRI cabin of the station - one of the biggest railway junctions in the country.
The movement more than 180 trains to major cities of the country via Itarsi, about 90km from Bhopal have been hit hard since the June 17 fire that completely destroyed the signalling system, The signalling system since the fire was being handled manually, officials said.
On Thursday, a near mishap was averted when a train was diverted to platform number 6 which had an open-end line instead of platform number 4, they said.
Hindustan Times visited the RRI cabin and interacted with several employees and officials of signalling and telecommunication (SNT) manning the system, most of who confirmed that there was no smoke detector in the cabin.
“Had a smoke detector been installed in the room, it would have sounded an alert and the fire could have been doused before it damaged the entire system,” said a senior officer from SNT department of Bhopal rail division, requesting anonymity.
The damage could have been avoided if the Railways authorities had installed a smoke detector at the RRI. The authorities never bothered to install it in the last 34 years since the RRI was set up in 1981, some of them said.
Talking to Hindustan Times, commissioner railway safety Chetan Bakshi said it was an incident which could have taken place anywhere.
“Such incidents could be avoided with certain measures. If a smoke detector was not installed at the time of construction of the RRI it can be installed any time,” he said.
Bhopal divisional railway manager Alok Kumar, who has been camping in Itarsi and monitoring the restoration work denied that there was any negligence on the railways part, saying the signalling system was being replaced with a new one and more than 95% of the wiring work had been completed.
“We will restore the entire system by July 22. For the new RRI, we have to develop 30 new turnouts (points). Officials are working on a war footing to restore the signalling system,” he said.