In the wake of a series of attacks on the Railways by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) during the past two days, the Railway Board on Tuesday held an emergency meeting and issued fresh directives for the safe running of all trains, including the Rajdhani series, in naxalite-affected regions across the country.
Apart from prescribing speed restrictions, the board issued fresh alerts to concerned authorities to step up patrolling along tracks, run pilot engines to escort important trains like the Rajdhani Express, and to increase the strength of the escort Railway Protection Force (RPF) parties on these trains.
The meeting chaired by Member (Staff) A.K. Goel was also attended by RPF Director-General Ranjit Sinha.
The board members interacted with the RPF Inspector-General posted with the East Central Railway (ECR), who provided inputs in the wake of the derailment of the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express near Gaya.
No less than nine attacks were reported through the night and early morning on Tuesday, which included the derailment of the Rajdhani Express. Of these, the naxalites used bombs in seven incidents, while in another incident, the track had been tampered with. The rebels also left posters at another place.
The Railways suspended the movement of trains as a precautionary measure.
The fallout of these attacks was that the Railways cancelled at least one train, rescheduled another, diverted eight others, and short-terminated four trains, which led to the detention of eight other trains.
At least 11 bogies of the Rajdhani Express derailed but there were no major injuries.
The Railways has decided to have the Gaya incident probed by the Chief Safety Commissioner under the ECR, and to reward the train crew for applying the brakes as soon as the blast occurred.
The board also noted that the Rajdhani was moving at a restricted speed of 75 km. per hour and that their action helped reduce the extent of damage to the train and injuries to the 462 passengers.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has sanctioned a reward of Rs. 30,000 to the pilot and co-pilot and Rs.20,000 each to the guard and train superintendent.
In the wake of the Maoist bandh, the authorities had bunched three Rajdhani Expresses as a precautionary measure. The track was tested through a pilot train and later, two Rajdhanis heading for Howrah and Sealdah passed through at 11.15 p.m. and 11.29 p.m. The third one at 11.40 p.m. on Monday night, however, was targeted.
Officials also noted that that the damage to the Rajdhani was minimal as the train comprised high technology LHB (Linke Holfmann Bush) coaches.
The ninth paragraph of a report “Railway directive for safe running of trains” (March 24, 2010) was “The Railways has decided to have the Gaya incident probed by the Chief Safety Commissioner under the ECR, and to reward the train crew for applying the brakes as soon as the blast occurred.” It should have been the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS).