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'Metal piece that came off was fitted wrongly'

A freak incident occurred at Ghatkopar railway station when a piece of metal earthing came off after the Maharaja Express passed through the tracks on November 16. The stray bit went flying to the platform, injuring two people.

Officials from the Central Railway claim that the metal earthingstrip connected to the tracks was wrongly fitted and had become loose.

“Ideally this metallic earthing needs to be fitted below the ballasts (stones between cement sleepers). But that day, it was protruding. Hence, it was hit by this fast moving train,” said a CR official on condition of anonymity.

According to the authorities, the metallic earthing needs to be properly buried. The purpose of the earthing is to ensure that the stray voltage from the electricity -- supplied by the overhead wires and transmitted to the train equipment, thus helping it run -- flows into the ground.

The Maharaja Express is made of LHB (Linke Holfmann Busch) coaches -- whose floor is closer to the ground than that of the local trains. As such, the protruding metallic strip took a hit, officials said.

This is not the first time such a thing has happened. “Even last year, there was a similar incident involving Maharaja Express, where an object was flung and a passenger was injured. So it was decided that this train would ply on the fifth and sixth lines, rather than the regular fast lines to prevent untoward incidents,” said another CR official.

However, on Saturday, the train ran on the fast line due to operational reasons. “The commissioner of railway safety is conducting an enquiry into this incident,” said Atul Rane, chief PRO, Central Railway.

Officials added that this was a suo moto enquiry by the CRS due to the involvement of a luxurious passenger train. Initially, only a departmental enquiry was to take place.

Maharaja Express is one of the most expensive luxury trains operated by the IRCTC, and takes tourists, particularly foreigners, to several destinations around the country.

Hanging on
Meanwhile following the incident, one of the injured men is still battling for his life in the civic-run Sion Hospital. The patient Arjun Shinde (27) was severely injured in the head after the metallic strip hit him and then went on to hit another man, 42-year-old Rajan Nair. While Nair managed to escape with minor head injuries, doctors at the hospital said that Shinde’s skull had cracked open due to the impact. He underwent an operation on Sunday.

“He is still on the ventilator and blood support in the trauma ward. His condition is still very critical though we have managed to maintain his blood pressure,” said Dr Nivedita Moulick, acting dean of Sion hospital.

Meanwhile, Nair sustained blunt trauma and swelling to his head and back, doctors at Rajawadi hospital said. He has been shifted to the general ward and his condition is stable as of now. 

Battling for life
Ajay Shinde, 27, one of the two injured who was admitted to Sion Hospital, is critical. His skull cracked open due to the impact of the hit 

(Inputs from Anuradha Varanasi)

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