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Terror tracks: South Central Railways

January 03, 2003 17:48 IST

The derailment of Secunderabad-Manmad express train, which has claimed 11 lives and caused injuries to 40 other passengers, is the fifth incident in a row in the last three days and the second mishap on the Parli-Ghatnandur section of the South Central Railways.

Several mishaps have occurred and many have been averted under the South Central Railways in the last fortnight.

While 31 passengers and three railway contract workers have been killed, 120 passengers and a railway worker were injured in these accidents. The statistics definitely put a question mark on the safety of the South Central Railway.

The first mishap was the derailment of the Bangalore-bound Kachiguda-Bangalore Express train near Gooty town in Andhra Pradesh on December 21, in which 20 persons were killed and 80 persons were injured.

The police and railway authorities attributed the accident to sabotage by miscreants who are yet to be identified.

On December 25, a major mishap was averted with the alertness of the driver of the Hyderabad-Ernakalum Sabari Express. The train was passing through Vetapalem-Chinnaganjam stations in Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh, when the driver noticed some iron sheets lying on the tracks. He immediately stopped the train, averting what could have been a major accident.

The very next day, an alert key man averted another major mishap when he detected a broken rail on the track in between Kazipet junction and Hasanparthi station. The traffic was resumed only after the rail was restored.

On December 28, three railway contract workers, including a woman, were killed on the spot and another worker sustained injuries when the Rajkot Express, coming from Vikarabad to Hyderabad, hit them as they were working on the tracks near the Chittigadda station.

The seven workers were engaged in repairing the track while a goods train passed the spot on the adjacent track. In a few moments, the Hyderabad-bound Rajkot Express hit them from behind.

In another incident on the same day, the driver of the Bangalore-bound Kachiguda-Bangalore Express train averted a major mishap when he slowed down the train after hearing a loud thud from the tracks between Malyala and Lingamdoddi stations in Kurnool district.

The railway track was found broken with an 8mm gap, just 8 kms away from the spot where the Bangalore Express had derailed on December 21.

The railway officials stopped the Venkatadri Express coming in the opposite direction and sent a team to repair the track, on being alerted by the Bangalore Express driver.

On New Year, two minor mishaps took place and a major accident was averted. An alert key man detected a weld failure on the track between Pathakothacheruvu and Gooty and alerted the Gooty station manager. The Mumbai-Chennai Express, travelling on the same track, was saved from a mishap.

In another incident, a pair of front wheels of the engine of a passenger train jumped off the rails between Ghatnandur and Parli in Maharashtra. No one was injured in the incident.

On the same day, five bogies of a goods train derailed near Kakatiyanagar in Rangareddy district. The mishap occurred when the goods train was going to Krishna Raichur from Mancherial. There were no casualties. The derailment of goods train was attributed to mechanical fault.

On January 2, an alert railway gangman found the track between Bantanahal and Guntakal damaged. He informed the officials and stuck red flags near the track, but not before the Bangalore-Hubli-Hampi Express had saftely passed by just minutes before the fault was discovered.

The passengers felt a rattling sound emanating from the tracks. The train, however, did not go jump the rails as it was moving in the direction of the fault.

The safety of the South Central Railways is in question after these series of saftely lapses have been discovered.

Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad