A day after a passenger train derailed in Maharashtra’s Raigad district killing 21 people and injuring 124 others, railway sources said poor maintenance of the tracks along Nagothane-Roha section resulted in the derailment of Diva-Sawantwadi Road passenger train.
“Negligence on the part of engineering department while maintaining welded rails has led to the fracture of tracks that caused the derailment,” said a senior railway official, requesting anonymity.
Recently, a flaw was detected in the welded rails along the accident spot through Ultrasonic Flaw Detection technique, said an officer of Central Railway. Following which, joggled fishplate were used to protect the rails, the officer added.
A joggled fishplate is a curve metal plate fixed on both sides of the welded rail as an emergency measure. As per the “Permanent Way Manual of Indian Railways”, trains crossing the rail tracks with joggled fishplate must follow a speed restriction of 20kmph until the tracks are completely replaced. However, Diva-Sawantwadi Road passenger train was travelling at a speed of 60kmph at the time of the accident on Sunday, confirmed railway officer.
Moreover, during the site inspection after the accident, officials found that the the rail tracks had alumino thermic welding apart from joggled fishplate. This, officers said, indicated that the rail tracks had suffered flaws repeatedly and required immediate replacement as alumino thermic welding is used to join the tracks only when factory made welded tracks get damaged.
Railway Officials said that while the use of joggled fishplate is a “temporary measure”, the railways should have replaced damaged welded rails in time.
According to railway officer, earlier the 13-metre rail track was joined with another rail using fishplate. “However, due to repeated thefts and sabotage by miscreant, two rails were joined permanently by welding at manufacturing stage,” said the officer.
Meanwhile, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge reached the accident spot and later visited a hospital in Roha and Sion and Mumbai to meet all the accident victims.
Railways announced to bear the hospital expenditure of all the people injured in the accident.
The traffic was restored on the affected route by 4 am.