The uncomfortable regularity in the occurrence of train derailments, such as the one involving the Muzaffarpur-Yesvantpur weekly Express on Wednesday morning at Sitheri near Arakkonam, about 80 km from here, continues to be a source of worry for Railway administrators and the millions of passengers who use the system every day.

The train had left Chennai Central in a 24-coach formation at 4.15 a.m. with about 750 passengers on board.

At around 5.50 a.m., 12 coaches derailed, soon after the train had left Arakkonam and was passing through the Sitheri-Mahendravadi section.

The incident left one passenger dead and over 30 injured. The Railways has launched an inquiry to investigate the cause of the accident.

In fact, the report submitted by the high-level safety review committee headed by Anil Kakodkar had last year drawn attention to the fact that though derailments between 2006 and 2011 had declined, they still accounted for half the consequential train accidents.

Derailments also resulted in 4 per cent of deaths and 27 per cent of injuries – or in other words, 19 per cent of total fatalities.

Of the 441 derailments that occurred during the five-year review period, the maximum of 129 cases were due to civil engineering defects, followed by 56 due to sabotage, 54 due to combination of staff, 43 due to carriage and wagon defects, 36 due to failure of other than railway staff, 27 due to failure of operating staff, 24 due to failure of equipment and 28 due to failure of the loco pilot.

“While an analysis of derailments based on their time of occurrence indicates that there is no correlation, there is a slightly higher possibility of derailments occurring between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” the report noted.

One of the recommendations was to switch to LHB design coaches from ICF coach designs.

The Railways, which is often caught between pressures of running more services and preserving its lines from getting overstressed, has also been witnessing higher speeds of trains, heavier axle loads, a mixed typed of traffic and improper rail weld procedures.

All these factors, singly or collectively, take away from the service life of rail lines.

CRS to hold probe

S. K. Mittal, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, will conduct a two-day inquiry into the derailment on April 15 and 16 at the office of the Divisional Railway Manager, Chennai Division. , Fifth floor, Park Town, Chennai – 600 003.

The inquiry, which will commence at 11 a.m. on these days, will gather evidence from passengers and members of the public.

Any member of the public with knowledge relating to the accident and desiring to give evidence may do so at the office on the dates of inquiry or write to the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Circle, Bangalore or send a fax at 080 – 22260650.

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