As train services on the Central Railway (CR) got back on track on Friday, after two days of disruption, railway authorities expressed their helplessness over being able to avert such accidents involving commuters, though they are looking to put more safeguards in place to prevent such fires.
On Thursday, three youngsters were killed and 20 others injured while hanging out of speeding, over-crowded trains after they got hit by a loose signal post, between Mulund and Nahur stations.
While the Government Railway Police claims the accident took place because the maintenance post attached to a signal came unscrewed, Vidhyadhar Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer, CR, maintained: “This incident is because of extreme over-crowding and not because of infringement of any norms.” According to him, the accident could have happened after someone’s protruding bag got entangled to the post and loosened it.
There are more than 200 signal poles between CST and Kalyan, and during rush hours, thousands of commuters are forced to hang out from the footboard of trains.
As far as the fire at the Kurla sub-station is concerned, the authorities are studying what happened. “A committee that includes safety, signalling and electrical officers has been appointed to ascertain the cause and make recommendations to avoid future incidents,” Malegaonkar said.
Senior railway officers said the fire could have been averted if the Joint Procedure Order, put in place by the Railway Board in 2003, had been followed. “There has been blatant violation of the Joint Procedure Order rules, which states the procedure to lay cable wires,” said a senior CR official, requesting anonymity. “Permission was not sought from the maintenance department for laying cables. If this happens again, such incidents too can happen again.”
While installing new signals and telecom cable, the contractor damaged a high-power underground cable laid in 2008. It led to a short circuit and fire.
“The underground cable got damaged due to the digging. But if the concerned department had been informed immediately, it could have isolated the damaged cable. Keeping the department in the dark led to the mishap,” the official said.