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In Mumbai, assistant loco pilot falls to death: report says equipment failure caused fire in engine

The loco pilot of Howarah-Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) train noticed smoke from the locomotive, he was inspecting the locomotive when he fell off the train and died.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai |
June 23, 2018 5:24:37 am
in mumbai, assistant loco pilot falls to death: report says equipment failure caused fire in engine The Charni Road station in Mumbai. The Rail Land Development Authority was set up for the development of vacant railway land for commercial use. (Express Photo by Nirmal Harindran)

MORE THAN a month after an assistant loco pilot died after falling from a Mumbai-bound passenger train while he was inspecting a fire that had broken out in the locomotive, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Western Circle, in a preliminary report, has recorded ‘equipment failure’ as the cause of the fire.

On May 6, after the loco pilot of 12810 Howarah-Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) train noticed smoke from the locomotive between Talni and Dhamangaon stations, assistant loco pilot S K Vishwakarma was inspecting the locomotive when he fell off the train and died.

According to the CRS report, the fire in the Electric Locomotive 22936 WAP4 was caused due to an error in the tap changer of the transformer. A tap changer checks voltage variations in the locomotive. The assistant loco pilot is required to rotate the tap after checking voltage levels.

According to provisional findings of the Commissioner appended with his preliminary report, “the fire accident in the Electric Locomotive No 22936 WAP4 of 12810 Up Howarah-CSMT mail train between Talni and Dhamangaon stations at km 715.375 in Wardah-Badnera Electrified BG Double line section Nagpur Division of the Central Railway…..took place due to sparking inside the tap changer of the transformer of the locomotive. The accident is classified as ‘equipment failure’.”

While there could be multiple reasons that caused the spark, reduction in amount of oil may have also caused the fire, according to the report. According to railways, the loco was inducted in the railways after its last periodic overhaul (long-term maintenance) on March 21, 2018.

Its maintenance was done at Khadakpur workshop of the South Eastern Railway. A senior railway official, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Both maintenance of the loco and oil levels of the locomotive are major factors that require to be checked… A loco catching fire is uncommon…”

Vishwakarma (30) was assistant loco pilot in the Nagpur division of the Central Railway for seven years. No passenger was hurt in the incident. Loco pilot D L Bramhe, who had applied emergency brakes to stop the train, sustained minor injuries.

“We are trying to analyse all aspects of the accident. We will check for the maintenance schedule of the loco to see how well it was maintained, besides the oil levels in the engine and other aspects. This is just a preliminary report, further inquiry is on,” Sushil Chandra, CRS, Western Circle, said.

“The loco belongs to Santragachhi shed of South Eastern Railway. The accident was caused due to equipment failure and such failures are unavoidable in any rolling stock. We try to maintain the assets… but these failures do happen,” said Somesh Kumar, Divisional Railway Manager, Nagpur division.

Kumar added that the loco, after the accident, was detained at the Ajni shed in Nagpur for a month. It was later returmed to the Santragachhi shed. “Technical flaws in the loco are being looked at and repaired. We are taking action to fix the anomalies,” Kumar added.

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