‘Three accidents occurred due to fire or rumour of the train catching fire’

After experiencing three major train accidents in Andhra Pradesh that snuffed out the lives of 66 passengers, in the last two years, the Government Railway Police (GRP) Vijayawada Division has initiated an awareness campaign along with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) on carrying of inflammable material on board trains.

“All the three accidents were due to fire or rumour of the train catching fire, and that is why we felt the need to educate the people on basic precautions and discourage them to carry inflammable material on board,” said the Superintendent of Police of GRP D. Syam Prasad.

On July 30, 2012, 32 passengers in the Chennai-bound Tamil Nadu Express were burnt to death due to a short circuit near Nellore, on November 2, last year eight passengers in the Bokaro-bound Alapuzzha-Dhanbad-Bokaro Express lost their lives due a rumour of fire in a coach near Vizianagaram and on December 29, last year 26 passengers in an A/C coach in the Bangalore City-Nanded Express were charred to death due to a short circuit near Anantapur.

Short circuit

While in the case of the TN Express there was a short circuit due to the use of a sub-substandard and duplicate cell phone charger, in the Nanded Express case there was a clear sign of internal electrical short circuit. In the accident at Gotlam near Vizianagaram, though it was due to a rumour of the coach catching fire, the rumour emanated from the smoke that resulted from spillage of acids from the bottles that were stored illegally near a bathroom, said Dr. Syam Prasad. The awareness programme, which included interacting with the passengers in the train, will focus on discouraging them from carrying inflammable material like acids, kerosene, petrol and diesel.

“We are also educating them on the right use of cell phone chargers. Many just plug-in and forget to remove them and many also use sub-standard ones bought from the grey markets. No charger should be used more than 20 minutes.

It was also observed that many passengers use electric heaters to boil milk or water. We strongly discourage that practice. It is always better to use insulated flasks,” he said.

Pantry cars

Dr. Syam Prasad informed The Hindu that a proposal has been sent to the Railway Board to de-link the pantry cars and make suitable arrangements at the stations en route.

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