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Updated: December 2, 2012 12:15 IST

Run-down coaches, pests plague train passengers

Staff Reporter
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An ill-maintained coach of the Ernakulam-Guruvayur passenger train, parked at the South railway station on Friday. Photo: Vipin Chandran
The Hindu An ill-maintained coach of the Ernakulam-Guruvayur passenger train, parked at the South railway station on Friday. Photo: Vipin Chandran

Most coaches 15 to 25 years old, says RTI activist

Rickety coaches with cockroaches and rats crawling inside them are giving a harrowing time to train commuters in Kerala.

Thursday’s accident near Alappuzha railway station in which the wheel and platform truck of the Ernakulam-Kayamkulam passenger train got detached from the passenger body of a coach speaks volumes about the Railway’s approach towards the upkeep of trains and safety of passengers.

“Most of the coaches being used in the Thiruvananthapuram Division are 15 to 25 years old. They have a maximum life span of 25 years if they are well maintained. Incidents like the one at Alappuzha prove that the agency is paying scant regard to passenger safety,” said D.B. Binu, RTI activist and general secretary of the Human Rights’ Defence Forum. Mr. Binu obtained information about the average age of coaches after he filed a query under the Right to Information Act.

A regular train passenger in the Ernakulam-Alappuzha route, Mr. Binu said the functioning of mechanical and electrical parts of many passenger trains was dismal. “Lights and fans do not work and flush tanks are full of rats. Even worse, the window panes of toilets in many coaches are broken and passengers can use them only when the train is moving.”

The lackadaisical attitude of Southern Railway towards safety, the alleged handing over of old coaches to the Thiruvananthapuram Division and their inadequate upkeep are proving costly to train commuters in the State.

On Monday, a formal inquiry into the accident will be conducted at the office of the Assistant Divisional Mechanical Engineer in Ernakulam. The train’s crew, the mechanical engineers concerned and others will testify at the inquiry. However, even officials within the agency doubt that the probe would name the real cause of the incident, in which eight passengers barely escaped with their lives.

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