Southern Railway on Friday claimed that no defect was detected in any electrical equipment of S-11 coach of the Tamil Nadu Express rake when primary maintenance was done on July 26.
Maintaining that all efforts were taken to ensure that there was no compromise on safety due to shortage of manpower, Additional General Manager (Southern Railway) G. Narayanan said that the rake involved in the fire tragedy at Nellore (on Monday) was despatched after primary maintenance (as Train No. 12621 Chennai Central-New Delhi Tamil Nadu Express).
“The rake was given requisite mandatory attention before dispatch from Chennai on July 26 and there were no defects in electrical equipment with regard to S-11 Coach,” he told The Hindu on Friday.
Dr. Narayanan said that there were adequate instructions for the maintenance of coaches. Additional instructions would be subject to the outcome of the statutory enquiry ordered into the fire incident.
Saying that introduction of fire-retardant coaches was a policy decision to be taken by the Railway Board, the AGM said the allegation that emergency exit windows could not be operated when fire broke in the S-11 coach would be probed during the ongoing enquiry.
On the steps taken to prevent passengers from carrying inflammable articles, Dr. Narayanan said that the carriage of dangerous or offensive goods was covered under Section 67 of Indian Railways Act, 1989 and punishable under Sections 164 & 165 of the Act.
In 2011, the Railway Protection Force of Southern Railway prosecuted 8 cases. This year, 20 cases had been registered for carrying inflammable articles. Existing practice of checks would be amended based on the findings of the statutory enquiry.
Training for onboard staff
Sources in the Safety Organisation of Southern Railway said that onboard employees, including Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) and Coach Attendants, were being imparted intensive training in firefighting techniques by safety counsellors. It covered the operation of fire extinguishers, process of evacuating passengers in the event of an exigency and effective use of emergency exit windows.
Drills would be conducted at regular intervals to check the level of preparedness of the employees.