NO END IN SIGHT Of­fi­cials scramble for an­swers as sta­tion re­ports third mishap in Sept

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - News - Vishal Kant vishal.kant@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

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