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Monorail breakdown: No evacuation plan in place for power failures for Monorail

The monorail breakdown in Mumbai and the subsequent evacuation of passengers by the fire brigade with the help of a skylift on Sunday has exposed serious lacunae in the evacuation arrangements in place.

mumbai Updated: Mar 16, 2015 16:00 IST
Saurabh Katkurwar
Saurabh Katkurwar
Hindustan Times
Mumbai monorail,monorail breakdown,MMRDA

The monorail breakdown in Mumbai and the subsequent evacuation of passengers by the fire brigade with the help of a skylift on Sunday has exposed serious lacunae in the evacuation arrangements in place.

In the manual for the Monorail, two possible methods of evacuation are prescribed – the disabled monorail can either towed by another monorail, or a new monorail can be brought to the track parallel to that occupied by the disabled monorail. Commuters can be rescued with the help of evacuation ramps placed between doors of both the monorails.

However, the workers of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) could not use either of these methods on Sunday, as there was no power supply.

The manual, which prescribes the two methods of evacuation, fails to point out alternative evacuation strategies in the event of a power failure.

MMRDA officials also admitted to the absence of alternatives.

PRK Murthy, chief of the transport and communication department of MMRDA, said, “We could not use any of the evacuation methods since power supply was affected on both the tracks. We will have to rely on manual rescue operations conducted by the fire brigade, in case of power failure.”

There are certain stretches on the Monorail corridor which are not accessible to sky-lifts used by the fire brigade. This can make rescue operations difficult in future.

“It is a serious lapse on part of the MMRDA officials that they did not think of required evacuation methods while planning and implementation of the Monorail project. There should be an inquiry on the matter and strict action should be taken against the officials responsible,” said Jagdeep Desai, transport expert.

A senior MMRDA official said that the option of buying a diesel-run monorail to carry out rescue operations had been discussed.

There were just 11 commuters – including the pilot – on board the monorail when it broke down near Bhakti Park station at 8am on Sunday. Monorails run packed after 11am on Sundays.

“Had a packed monorail suffered a breakdown, it would have led to chaos and rescue operations would have become difficult,” said a police officer stationed at Bhakti Park station.

First Published: Mar 16, 2015 15:58 IST