Even as Chetan Bakshi, the Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS), Central Circle, Chetan Bakshi started a probe in Tuesday’s fire incident at Dockyard road that scalded 11 passengers, the employees blamed the accident on retrofitted old rakes.
Out of the 36 operational rakes that ply on the Harbour line, 10 are retrofitted (modified old trains that run on alternate and direct current) and frequently develop snags.
On Tuesday, the railways claimed that the train did not catch fire but the oil that leaked from the train transformer caused the burns to passengers. However, the victims maintained that the transformer caught fire which scalded them badly.
The employees claimed that such incidents had occurred in the past but had not been made public (by the railway authorities). “No major damage or fire was reported in the past whenever such problems came up,” said a senior engineer requesting anonymity. “The retrofitted rakes develop snags, especially when the AC power is converted from 25kv to the 1500v DC current.”
An engineer said that retrofitted rakes do not touch the upper speed limit of 80kmph, which is why trains on the Harbour line run slower than other lines. However, another senior official dismissed his colleague’s claims. “The retrofitted rakes are as good as the new Siemens rakes.”
Subodh Jain, general manager, Central Railways (CR), said that the commissioner of safety would assess the cause of the fire and that the inter-departmental inquiry would be suspended in view of the CRS probe.
Bakshi told HT that the transformer that leaked oil would also be examined on Saturday. “After examining relevant equipment, the officers concerned will be called.”