Alert locomotive pilots of Madgaon- Dadar Jan Shatabdi Express averted a major tragedy by stopping the train in time after they spotted a huge piece of rail “placed meticulously” on tracks near Diwa station adjoining Mumbai, officials said on Wednesday.
The incident occurred on Tuesday night when the Mumbai-bound Jan Shatabdi Express (12052) with 700 passengers on-board had crossed Mumbra station and was nearing Diwa station. Both Mumbra and Diwa are located in Thane district, neighbouring the financial capital.
“Jan Shatabdi (12052) train started from Madgaon on Tuesday at 2.30 pm and was scheduled to reach Mumbai around 11pm. However, at 10.37pm, when the train reached between Mumbra and Diva stations, the drivers spotted the seven-metre-long and around 400kg piece of the rail, meticulously placed on one track,” said Central Railway general manager DK Sharma.
Loco pilot Harendra Kumar and assistant loco pilot Harish Chinchole spotted the seven-metre long piece of rail on one of the tracks and stopped the train in nick of time, Sharma said.
“They stopped the train, got down, and removed the rail with the help of the chief loco inspector N K Yadav and the passengers and then proceeded,” Sharma told reporters.
A CST-bound fast local had passed on the same track just 17 minutes earlier. “This means this piece was placed on the track deliberately for nefarious reasons after the local train had passed,” Sharma said.
Top railway officials too suspect it to be either an act of sabotage or mischief and have lodged an FIR with railway police. Given the sensitivity of the incident which occurred ahead of the Republic Day, the officer said they have increased vigil, patrolling and monitoring of tracks.
A rail piece is generally placed along tracks so that in case of emergency, like a rail fracture, these pieces can be used immediately.
“The area where the rail was placed is inhabited. Railway police has registered an FIR and launched a multi-pronged investigation to nab the culprits,” Sharma said, adding the police commissioner of Mumbai and the Maharashtra DGP were informed about the incident.
He said this could be the act of a handful of people and the administration has taken the incident very seriously.
“This could be an act of terrorism, an act of sabotage or an act of mischief...our agencies are investigating the matter from all possible angles,” the GM said.
Meanwhile, responding to a query whether it was an act of terrorism, Atul Srivastav, the chief security commissioner of Central Railway, said it would be premature to draw such conclusion.
“This may or may not purely be an act of terrorism but we are leaving no stone unturned to crack the case with the help of city police and Railway police,” he said.
Meanwhile, the loco pilots were felicitated by authorities on Wednesday for their act.
Railways suspects sabotage in the wake of recent incidents of derailments in various parts of country.
On Saturday night, engine and nine coaches of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express jumped the tracks in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district, killing 39 people.
Trains had derailed near Kanpur in November and December last year claiming over 150 lives.
Hinting at the possibility of sabotage in the derailments, railway minister Suresh Prabhu recently wrote to home minister Rajnath Singh seeking a detail probe by the National Investigating Agency into the incidents.
Recently, Bihar police had unearthed a conspiracy to train some persons in the country to tamper with railway tracks to cause derailments and their possible involvement in the accident near Kanpur.
On January 1, railway protection force director heneral SK Bhagat had written to the CBI requesting for a probe into the suspected involvement of outsiders in making deep cuts on tracks near Kalyanpur, Mandhana stations near Kanpur.