CRS to set up inquiry into locomotive fire incident

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 May 2018 09:28:03


Staff Reporter,

The stage is set for inquiry by Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) into the incident of fire in a passenger locomotive that claimed life of an Assistant Loco Pilot (ALP). On Thursday, Sushil Chandra, CRS, Central Zone, will conduct the probe to determine factors that led to the unfortunate incident that had put at risk lives of thousands of passengers. The inquiry will held at Nagpur and later at Wardha Railway Station, said the officials familiar with the matter.

ALP S K Vishwakarma (32) was the lone casualty in the incident after he got thrown out of the burning locomotive onto the ballast on the tracks. He suffered brain hemorrhage that led to his instantaneous death on spot. Vishwakarma's body had burn injuries on his face and on lower portion of legs indicating that the burning oil in transformer flew all over him after latter got burst. This explains the blast that Loco Pilot D S Brahme talked in his statement about the incident.

It may be recalled that the WAP-4 locomotive no. 22936 caught fire on Sunday last just ahead of Talni railway station under jurisdiction of Central Railway's Nagpur Division. The occurrence wherein the Loco Pilot D S Brahme put on a brave act and putting at risk his own life managed to apply emergency brakes to control the burning locomotive. Even as he battled the thick black smoke caused due to burning oil the loco pilot disengaged the pantograph. The twin acts by quick thinking Brahme saved one of the worst possible mishap that could have shamed Indian Railways like anything.

As is the procedure any death during the course of railway journey mandates an inquiry by CRS that was ordered on Monday, a day after the sad incident. The affected locomotive has been hauled to Nagpur where CRS along with Dy. CRS and their team will inspect the same and take help of experts to pinpoint the cause that led to blast and fire.

The WAP-4 locomotive is at Nagpur station yard and there is possibility that it might be taken to Electric Loco Shed (ELS) at Ajni wherein the seal on it will be broken in presence of CRS. The CRS and his team will then inspect the locomotive thoroughly from inside, take the pictures and with help of experts dissect the cause of burning and blast in the transformer as is suspected, said the sources.
After finishing off with locomotive examination, CRS and his team would head to Wardha Railway Station where they will record the statements of various railway officials and employees.

‘Locomotive was declared fit for rerun in March itself’

An interesting factor that has emerged in last few days is that the said electric locomotive no. 22936 had undergone Periodic Overhaul (PoH) and put on active mode in the month of March 2018 itself. The PoH is held every five years wherein the entire machineries and parts are thoroughly overhauled and made fit for rerun. Therefore for the locomotive to met with an mishap due to some mechanical or hydraulic failure within such a short span of time is inexplicable, said running staff while speaking on condition of anonymity.

Old timers recalled that previously during handing over taking over of locomotives at crew changing points about 40 minutes period used to be provided. Also locomotives used to be changed after travelling periodic distance. However, these practices were changed by Railway bosses and handing over time was cut down to mere 10 minutes. This period is very less to examine the total locomotive and ensure that everything is fit and fine, the employees are now saying.

About this particular locomotive, this must be determined post PoH did any of the crew that marashalled it ever recorded any anomaly or problem. Running Staff said there are two type of emergencies which test their skills to optimum is when either problem occurs with pantograph or with relay QLM. In both the cases the crew piloting the train has to rectify the problem within 30 seconds or else it goes out of control.