JUST a day after a derailment on the Central Railway’s harbour line, it was the turn of Western Railway (WR) commuters to suffer a harrowing journey Tuesday as coaches of a Churchgate-bound fast suburban train derailed as the train approached Vile Parle station. The incident occurred around 11 am, with the morning rush still to thin out, leading to thousands getting stranded as trains queued up on the defunct line. The derailment left six commuters injured.
A WR spokesperson said a detailed inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) would be conducted into the derailment. Officials their priority, however, was to restore the services. Senior officials also said if the restoration work took more than 24 hours, the inquiry would be likely conducted by the Railway Board.
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The WR spokesperson said the down fast line towards Virar was finally opened at 7.30 pm. “The restoration work was carried out on war footing… However, the up fast line is expected to be restored later at night.”
Seven coaches of the Virar-Churchgate fast local derailed around 11 am, leading to a blockage of the three lines between Andheri and Vile Parle. For more than three hours, the slow lines on both up and down sides remained paralysed and services remained severely affected, the spokesperson for WR admitted.
“A team of rescue officials and engineers reached the spot and the restoration work started after about an hour. After leaving Andheri station, motorman S K Singh said, he could sense something coming in between the tracks, and that it dragged along with the wheels. For about 1.5 km, the infringement of a foreign object was suspected. Leading to this, the track length of about 30 feet moved, causing derailment of seven coaches,” said Shailendra Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager of the Western Railway.
The statements of the motorman and guard A P Sahu were taken to ascertain the cause of the derailment.
With the evening peak-hour approaching fast, officials said it was most important to restore services on at least the down suburban line. “The restoration work is progressing but both the lines will resume early tomorrow,” said Sharat Chandrayan, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of WR.
“The WR coordinated with BEST to run extra bus services between Andheri and Vile Parle and commuters were also asked to use the harbour line services. Slow trains were also operating from Santacruz,” added Chandrayan.
Meanwhile, senior officials who did not wish to be named said a “caution order” had been issued to operate services under 20 KMPH on a particular stretch as maintenance of the railway tracks was required. “Though the maintenance was carried out last week, it may have not been well maintained,” said an official.
To this, Shailendra Kumar said, “The caution order was not issued for this line.”
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu incidentally held a meeting Tuesday with 17 zonal general managers across the country on the agenda of safety. He told all GMs to personally ensure that safety aspects were handled in the most professional manner at all levels. The six injured passengers were admitted to the R N Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle. Two of them were treated and discharged later in the day.