Besides repairing a 70-year-old porter, WR will also have to relay and align tracks on 1.5-km stretch damaged during the derailment
While the Western Railway authorities thanked their lucky stars that yesterday’s derailment between Andheri and Vile Parle did not turn into a catastrophe, today will likely be another difficult day for the 35 lakh commuters of WR, as train services are expected to resume around 6 am or later.
Railway employees busy repairing the damaged porter
After the derailment, one of the seven coaches crashed into a 70-year-old porter — a metal frame that holds overhead cables supplying power to the trains — and damaged it. The impact of the collision was such that the entire frame was dented. Eyewitnesses said this resulted in sparks flowing from the porter.
Soon after the mishap, railway employees were pressed into action to repair the porter and restore services at the earliest. The power supply to the derailed coaches was cut off and workers began to weld the porter back into shape.
After the derailment, one of the seven coaches crashed into a 70-year-old porter — a metal frame that holds overhead cables supplying power to the trains — and damaged it. The impact of the collision was such that the entire frame was dented. Pics/Rane Ashish
The main task was to restore power to the trains and ensure smooth services for today. All this happened while Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu addressed a safety meeting with general managers of all 17 zones.
“The most difficult job is to ensure that it (porter) doesn’t collapse on trains operating on the adjacent tracks,” said a WR official. Besides this, replacing the damaged 1.5-km stretch of tracks and resuming services on the fast line by 6 am today was another mammoth task before the WR.
Bad to worse
To make matters worse, the callous attitude exhibited by onlookers aggravated the problem at the accident spot. It was observed that residents of nearby slums and college students thronged the site to catch a glimpse of the derailment.
They were also seen clicking pictures of the derailed coaches, thus hampering the repair work. In addition, commuters complained about the lack of announcements — following the derailment, there was no information to be had about the operational train services.
B Vishwanathan, the motorman operating the Churchgate-Borivli fast train that was coming from the opposite direction, was the first to spot smoke and the disoriented movement of the derailed train.
It was he who alerted the motorman. “I saw smoke and fire emanating from the coach. I realised that something was wrong and immediately sent a distress signal to the motorman (S Singh) of this train (that got derailed),” Vishwanathan said.
The WR officials said the presence of mind exhibited by Vishwanathan and Singh (who skilfully stopped the train and averted a disaster) was commendable. They said chances of a head-on collision were high, as one of the derailed coaches had jumped tracks and landed just metres away in front of another Borivli-bound train.