Expert team headed by Vijayawada DRM conducts joint inspection

The accident involving the Thiruvananthapuram -Guwahati weekly special express here on Monday has brought under sharp focus certain safety lapses on the part of the Railways.

A joint inspection was conducted by a seven-member expert team headed by Vijayawada Divisional Railway Manager Pradeep Kumar to ascertain the condition of the train at the accident site.

It was reportedly found that the train was carrying passengers much beyond its capacity.

The overload was said to have resulted in the sagging of the trolley frame of the S7 coach so much so that the belt that runs the dynamo kept hitting the ballast on either side of the track right from Duggirala in Guntur district up to Eluru. The friction caused smoke and thudding sound from underneath the coach all along.

When 200 panic-stricken passengers jumped from the moving train fearing that the smoke could be the result of a fire in one of the coaches, over a dozen of them suffered grievous injuries. The team noticed that the dynamo belt in the S7 coach was badly damaged on account of the friction. The authorities asked 450 passengers to get down from all the sleeper coaches travelling in excess of the train’s capacity.

Dinner arranged

The officials arranged dinner for all of them stranded in the railway station here for a whole night. They attached three extra coaches to the Kerala-Dibrugarh Express to enable all the stranded passengers to continue their onward journey on Tuesday morning. A senior official from the Railway Protection Force said there was hardly any breathing space in the coaches and passengers occupied even toilets. The express train with 20 bogies — 12 sleeper coaches, two general bogies and five A/C coaches and a pantry car — was permitted to carry 1,000 passengers. But it was found carrying 3,000 passengers.

“Overloading of passengers with their luggage reportedly led to sagging of the wheel frame of the S7 coach, straining the alignment buffers that connected the adjoining coaches,” an official involved in the joint inspection told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.