While a loose screw or two may be just a matter of carelessness for an individual, it can prove catastrophic for an organisation like Central Railway (CR) that caters to lakhs of people every day through its elaborate infrastructure. Sources say that a loose fitting may have caused the tragic death of three commuters yesterday on a Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)-bound fast train. Apparently a screw of a fitting done to support the inspection platform of a signal pole jutted out, thus resulting in people hitting the exposed portion and falling out of a moving train. The platform is used by workers for maintenance of the signal, and to change or clean bulbs.
Railway officials say it all probably began at around 9.05 am when a CST-bound fast train, either originating from Ambernath or Dombivli passed the Mulund-Nahur stretch. “It is quite possible that a commuter hanging on the footboard either hit the inspection platform of this signal, or he might have been carrying a heavy bag that got entangled with this platform, which not only threw him onto the tracks but also displaced this platform,” said a senior CR official on condition of anonymity. “The damaged portion was expulsed by 90 degrees. This could be the reason why one of the victims was close to the fifth line,” added the official.
Shivaji Dhumal, senior police inspector, Kurla GRP, said, “The metal bracket was fitted with a screw. This jutted out close to the passing train and apparently hit commuters on their arms.” The incident supposedly went unnoticed even as the victim would have been lying hurt on the tracks, but what followed was carnage. The Badlapur-CST train followed the previous one on this stretch at around 9.20 am. This is when, according to GRP officials, several people were hit on their arms and they fell onto the tracks, thus resulting in the death of three commuters and at least 20 others were injured.
Officials also claim that the train being overcrowded may have accentuated the tragedy. They are also looking at whether some of the victims tried to hold fellow commuters in an effort to avoid falling, and ended up dragging others down in the process. Meanwhile, CR officials have so far refused to take any blame in the matter. “There was no negligence on part of the railways in this incident,” said V Malegaonkar, chief PRO, CR.
Pratik Dhiraj Chedda (24), a resident of Dombivli
Jiten Suresh Vora (29), a resident of Kalwa
Ganeshkumar Shankarprasad Yadav (20), a resident of Mulund
>> Railway minister Mukul Roy announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the 3 deceased passengers. Rs 500 will be paid to those with minor injuries, and Rs 5,000 to those grievously injured
>> The expenditure on account of hospitalisation of the injured passengers will be borne by railways
>> Kurla GRP has registered an FIR against workers and officers of the maintenance department of Central Railway under IPC sections 304 (A), 337, 338, 34
CR ran 792 of the 974 scheduled suburban services and cancelled 192 till 5pm, which means about 81% services were on track. Trains were running late by about 10-15 minutes towards Kalyan-end. CR expects to ply 95% of the suburban services on April 20 and full restoration is likely by today evening.