Fractured rail tracks? Blame the rain

Jun 30, 2013, 03:14 IST | Shashank Rao

CR officials record 10 cases of track fractures in June, say while rainwater contracts the metal, the blazing sun expands it again. This constant change in temperature causes tracks to crack

If you thought only the roads of Mumbai bear the brunt of the incessant rains, then you are wrong. Railway tracks face a double whammy -- water logging on tracks during heavy showers and technical failures, thanks to fractures (cracks) caused due to fluctuating temperatures.

Whenever railway authorities identify a rail fracture, workers clamp it using special metal plates, thus allowing trains to move at restricted speeds of around 20kmph. PIC/ Datta Kumbhar

Railway officials explain that when it rains the rails’ metals cool down and contract. But when the temperature rises, the alloys heat up and expand. This constant change in the mercury causes rails to crack. In June, there have been 10 cases of rail fractures on the CST-Karjat/Kasara route on Main line and CST-Panvel on Harbour line. On Friday, too, there was a rail fracture between Vashi and Mankhurd stations.

A Rane, chief public relations officer, Central Railway, said, “It’s a misconception that rail fractures happen only during winter. It’s a common occurrence in monsoon too anywhere along the route.”

Sources explained that whenever they identify a rail fracture, they clamp it using special metal plates thus allowing trains to move at restricted speeds of around 20 kmph. During late night hours, they carry out special blocks and weld the fractured track by either replacing the track portion or filling the gap using small piece of metal.

According to sources, waterlogging on tracks also result in variation in temperature causing rail fractures. Whenever there are fractures in rail tracks, it becomes dangerous for trains to ply as there could be chances of derailment. 

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