NEW DELHI: Railway minister Suresh Prabhu may regret the choice of his words when he described the twin railway derailment in Harda Madhya Pradesh, as a natural calamity that could not be avoided. It now appears the disaster that killed 25 passengers and injured 50 was a result of maintenance failure.
A rail fracture can happen overnight but not this. It is obvious that the maintenance was not taken seriously. The rains just did not happen suddenly. Its monsoon and there is a proper drill for patrolling during this time. It is the job of the gangman to see if the track is sinking. There is ballast under the track and first that goes down. This is followed by the sinking of the formation and finally the track. It goes down centimetre by centimetre revealed a senior railway engineer.
He said that the tracks were washed away by flash floods. Railway officials who visited the accident site however said that it was actually a case of sinking of track which does not happen instantly and there are enough warning signs before the track goes down.
A train requires a braking distance of 1.4 km. Though it appears that Janata Express driver had applied brakes there wasn't enough time for him to bring it to a complete halt. Thus it too derailed the official said.
This particular stretch had been closed down for over a month due to a major fire at Itarsi railway station in June that destroyed the route relay interlocking cabin. The stretch opened just about a fortnight ago. The maintenance seems to have suffered on this count too with some laxity setting in he added.