'Railways failed to monitor wheel wear'

New Delhi Nov. 1. The wheel of one of the bogies of the Bangalore-Mysore Passenger train, which derailed killing four women near Mysore on October 23, had outlived its longevity and its serviceability was not monitored, according to an assessment by a team of engineers of the Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) which makes wheels for the Railways.

As per the monitoring standards for wear and tear of a train wheel in the U.K., wear of 35 mm is taken as the limit for discarding it. But the wheel of the bogey of the Bangalore-bound train was worn by almost 50 mm on the radius which is the limit followed by the Indian Railways for condemning wheels, the team found after inspection at the accident site, an official release here on Friday night said.

As per the preliminary assessment by the DSP team, chemical analysis of the wheel showed that its specification was in vogue till around 1997. But the wheel appeared to have been in service for more than six years and the specification now in vogue was different, it added.

The Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, had earlier said that wheel disc failure was suspected to be the cause of the derailment of the passenger train.

These assessments and findings of the DSP team of engineers were conveyed to the Minister for Steel, B.K. Tripathy when, accompanied by the Chairman of Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL), he visited the Wheel and Axle Plant of the Durgapur Steel Plant for an on-the-spot assessment of the manufacturing and quality assurance system of the unit on Friday.

Mr. Tripathy discussed the recent derailment of the Bangalore-Mysore Passenger train with the Managing Director of the plant, S.K. Bhattacharya, and other engineers.

Mr. Bhattacharya said that Indian Railways specification for the manufacture of wheels at the plant had been upgraded to keep pace with changing operational requirements.

The Minister suggested that the inspection of wheels in service and the wear and tear limit for condemning wheels may need to be reviewed. He said public safety was of utmost concern and importance to all government organisations, and proposed that a mechanism be evolved so that SAIL and the Railways could undertake continuous periodical joint inspections of tracks and wheels.


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