Less than 48 hours after two local trains collided with each other at Andheri, an experienced driver of the Mumbai central-bound Saurashtra Mail averted a mishap on Monday when he sensed something was amiss and hit the brakes between Kelwa and Safale on the Western Railway (WR).
The incident took place around 5.45am soon after the train crossed Kelwe station and was going towards Safale, a few stations north of Virar.
Officials said driver Rajesh Tomar felt some unusual jerks, a sign of a rail fracture, and stopped the train with help from assistant loco pilot Rameshchandra Meena. Nitin David, WR public relations officer, confirmed the incident.
Sources said there were three fractures on the track within the space of one metre. “It could have derailed the speeding train,” an official said, on condition of anonymity. “Tomar is an experienced driver and he noticed the rail fracture just in time,” said a WR spokesperson. The WR denied there were multiple fractures.
The driver then informed the engineering team.
The WR’s non-suburban services were badly hit during the morning peak hours as trains towards Virar and into the city could not run for more than two hours. “The line between Kelwe and Saphale was closed from 5.45am to 8am. All outstation trains and the shuttle services between Virar and Dahanu were running late till afternoon,” said a station master, requesting anonymity. “To avoid delays, two trains going to Palghar were diverted,” the spokesperson said.
WR officials blamed the weather. “Many factors such as a change in weather are responsible for fractures,” the spokesperson said. However, sources said the lack of proper maintenance is the root cause. There were 97 incidents of railway fractures in 2010-11, which shot up to 107 in 2011-12. The administration said it would felicitate Tomar.