Locomotive of Mumbai Mail catches fire, major mishap averted

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 May 2018 14:27:36


Staff Reporter,

Assistant Loco Pilot S K Vishwakarma dies after fall from locomotive that caught fire

A major train accident was averted in Central Railway’s Nagpur Division after locomotive of Mumbai-bound Mail caught fire on Sunday evening. Unfortunately, the Assistant Loco Pilot (ALP) S K Vishwakarma (32) slipped and fell down while checking the locomotive engulfed in smoke. Later, he died of head injuries at a hospital in Pulgaon, said a division spokesperson.

The incident occurred between Talni and Dhamangaon stations under Wardha sub-section. Due to overheating, the locomotive of 12810 Howrah-Mumbai Mail could have caught fire. Engulfed in smoke, the locomotive stalled on the mainline thereby affecting movement of trains on Howrah-Mumbai route for over an hour. The trains following Mail were controlled at Talni and those from opposite direction at Dhamangaon till alternate power (engine) was arranged to haul the Mail for onward journey.
The spoksperson said, “The exact nature of ALP’s death is still under wraps as we are yet to get details from LP D L Bramhe who is under shock. However, reports reaching here claimed that ALP slipped out of the locomotive accidentally as breathing became difficult due to smoke inside it. Vishwakarma was from 2011 batch and due to smoke and subsequent loss of visibility. Communication between LP and ALP snapped during which the tragedy seems to have occurred.”

In the meantime, Loco Pilot had communicated to Station Master of Talni about smoke inside the engine. A passenger phoned Wardha and informed about falling of ALP out of the locomotive. The goods train coming from opposite direction stopped on seeing smoke billowing from the burning locomotive. The train crew got down and picked-up injured Vishwakarma who was taken to Pulgaon station. The doctors who attended to injured Vishwakarma declared him dead. The primary reason given by doctors is that ALP had suffered a brain haemorrhage that led to his death instantaneously, the sources said.

According to information, the train crossed Talni railway station at 4.58 pm when smoke engulfed its locomotive. The train was at distance of 715/11 km. The Loco Pilot and ALP were grappling to gain control of the locomotive after hearing low intensity blast twice. Vishwakarma, while checking the engine, fell out of the locomotive. Later, he was taken to Pulgaon where a waiting ambulance rushed him to Military Hospital. At the hospital, doctors pronounced Vishwakarma dead on arrival.

Following the incident, Train No. 18030 Shalimar-Kurla was controlled at Talini station from 17.15 hrs while 12859 Mumbai-Howrah Geetanjali Express was held-up at Dhamangaon station. The affected Mail finally left for its onward journey at 19.43 hrs while Geetanjali was detained for nearly 55 minutes. Shalimar Express was the worst hit as it remained at Talni for nearly 2.10 hours, said the division officials.

Were maintenance checks done?

Incidentally, Howrah-Mumbai Mail (Train No. 12810) was running late and arrived 20 minutes late at Nagpur Railway Station on Sunday. It lagged throughout the section as it reached Pulgaon about 50 minutes late.

It reached Dhamangaon, in between it remained detained due to fire, for over one-and-a-half hours, about three hours late. This indicates that the train’s locomotive was under stress but pressure to maintain punctuality its basic checks could have been by-passed during the journey.

Although it is normal that smoke emanates from engines but for the fire to reach beyond control indicates the fault with maintenance practices. With pressure to run trains on time, maintaining punctuality results in adopting short cuts. A probe will reveal what exactly triggered the fire, the source said.

Loco Pilot Bramhe’s heroics saves the day for Railways

Loco Pilot D L Bramhe, by putting his life in danger, saved the day for Indian Railways on Sunday. Had he not clunged onto engine despite the fire having assumed dangerous proportions, the train could have become a burning train. Just after Talni till Dhamangaon, the section has down gradient. Had the engine not stopped, the train would have rolled over fast uncontrolled and in such situation flames from the locomotive might have spread to passenger bogies.

According to information from various sources, as the smoke filled the locomotive, the Loco Pilot and ALP were in trouble. The train was cruising at speed of nearly 110 km/hr and it was very difficult to even stand inside the locomotive full of smoke. Since the oil in one of the engines in the locomotive had caught fire, thick smoke engulfed it making it very difficult to breath even in loco pilot’s cabin.
The LP and ALP made frantic efforts to douse the fire but it only intensified the smoke which was billowing out with more speed. The LP and ALP could not even communicate and the temperature inside the locomotive was beyond tolerance. Meanwhile, while assessing the damage, the ALP might have slipped and fell off the running train.

However, LP D L Bramhe put his 30 years experience as Loco Pilot to test and decided to apply emergency brakes. As per the procedure, in emergency, the loco pilot has to apply hand brake slowly in certain degrees to ensure the speeding train does not derail. But given the time and circumstances on Sunday, Bramhe threw the hand brake, it must be mentioned that due to thick smoke inside the cabin, visibility was almost zero. Somehow, Bramhe managed to stop the train.

Before that the LP had communicated to Talni’s Station Master to inform him about the situation and hence the OHE supply too was to be disconnected to bring the engine to halt. Fortunately, the emergency brakes worked well and fine and the train stopped. Meanwhile, Bramhe managed get out of the cabin as it became unbearable inside it. When the emergency crew from Dhamangaon reached the spot, LP Bramhe was noticed hanging outside desperately holding out the door.

Bramhe was taken to Dhamangaon where first aid was given to him as he sustained minor burns.