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'Cut power supply when train derails'

Head-on collisions between trains are relatively rare on the suburban rail system, but in one such case a Kasara-bound local hit a boulder that had fallen on to the track and derailed at Umbermali, and was hit by the Vidarbha Express after a section was protruding on to the adjacent track. The Indian Railways ordered an immediate inquiry into the incident to ascertain what caused the chain of events.

Umbermali
Logical approach: The July 19 mishap at Umbermali, which left one dead and 15 injured. File pic

Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) Chetan Bakshi conducted the inquiry by speaking to commuters and eyewitnesses and documenting the details leading up to the mishap.

Bakshi prepared a report and submitted it to the Central Railway (CR) authorities some 18 days ago. An important safety measure recommended by him is to “shut down power supply to the line adjacent to the track where a train has derailed”.

The railways accepted the recommendation and will now implement the new safety norm and shut down power supply to the overhead wires in case of a derailment, so that trains on adjacent tracks would be brought to a halt.

Sources in the CR said that power supply to the overhead line where a train has derailed would automatically disconnect and supply on adjacent lines could be terminated manually.

The railway officials added that this would ensure a total power cut on the mishap stretch, and cutting the electricity on the adjacent tracks will eradicate chances of secondary mishaps.

According to the officials, each substation on either side of the route supplies power to around five to six kilometres of tracks.

Each substation covers from two to five railway stations on the stretch, which would vary depending on the distance between stations.

“The power would be restored only when we are sure that the derailed coaches do not pose any danger to oncoming trains or otherwise would be restored after the derailed coaches are removed or realigned,” said a senior CR official on condition of anonymity.

Kasara incident
>> On July 19, a boulder loosened by a landslide fell onto the tracks at Umbermali, which caused a CST-bound local to derail upon impact at around 9.30 pm
>> One woman died and 15 persons were injured as a result
>> Around six minutes later, the Mumbai-Gondia Vidarbha Express coming from the opposite direction hit a part of the stricken train
>> On July 26, CRS Chetan Bakshi conducted a public hearing involving commuters on the train and the Vidarbha Express, railway employees and villagers who witnessed the incident
>> Railway Minister Mukul Roy announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the deceased, Rs 1 lakh for those grievously injured and Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries 

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