RAJDHANI DERAILS AT NEW DELHI STATION
NO END IN SIGHT Officials scramble for answers as station reports third mishap in Sept
NEW DELHI: There seems to be no end to train derailments at the New Delhi railway station, one of the premier and busiest stations of the country located in the VIP district of the national capital.
The latest incident was reported on Thursday morning when the last coach of the Jammu Rajdhani Express derailed on arrival. It was the fifth case of derailment at the New Delhi station over the past four months, and the third in September.
The last coach---power car---of the train derailed as it parked itself at platform number 15, northern railway officials. No passenger was injured in the incident.
Though the coach was put back on the track in two hours, the derailment affected train operations at the station through the day.
Over 270 express and passenger trains operate from the station, with an average daily footfall of about five lakh, officials said.
Officials said a break in the rail track led to the derailment. Sources said sleepers on the affected track were repaired at night.
“The old sleepers that have undergone wear and tear are being replaced at the station. The derailment was noticed when the train started for being shunted into the washing line after the passengers de-boarded. A portion of the track was found to be broken,” an official said.
Repeated cases of derailment at New Delhi station have left the railway authorities red faced. Officials said the chief safety officer of railway board has initiated a probe into the recent incidents. An audit of infrastructure has also been initiated.
“Earlier the division had initiated an inquiry. But later it was scaled further up and now the chief safety officer is probing the matter. A report is expected soon,” Anshul Gupta, divisional railway manager (Delhi), North- ern Railway, told Hindustan Times.
“Besides, the division has started an audit of infrastructure with specific instructions to the staff to come up with solutions to the identified problems and not a list of grey areas per se. We have requested the railway board for a cross audit, so that we have an independent status report about the rail tracks,” he added.
The engineering wing, which is headed by an additional railway manager (ADRM)-ranked officer, maintains the tracks. Sources said eyebrows are often raised about the functioning of the department as construction and maintenance work are outsourced to private contractors and quality of work often goes for a toss.
The DRM, however, said outsourcing of work is done as per established procedures and work is awarded only to worthy bidders.
The repeated derailments have, however, forced the authorities to go for an overhaul of the rail tracks and sleepers at the New Delhi station. The scissors and diamond crossings---the points where trains change tracks---are being replaced with new sets of rails near the station.
On September 7, the engine and the power car of the RanchiNew Delhi Rajdhani had derailed at one of such crossing, affecting movement of trains on eight of the 16 platforms at New Delhi station.
“One such scissors crossing was replaced on Thursday. A block of about four hours was imposed for the past four nights. About 22 trains remained cancelled for four days. The next such block would be done to change other crossings next week,” an official said.
The overhaul of tracks is likely to take some time due to the approaching festival season. There is a heavy rush of passengers in the season, from Durga Puja to Chhath, especially in east-India bound trains, which will make it difficult for the authorities to cancel trains for maintenance.