Central Railway panel set up to probe fire in local train coach

The local is one of the eight Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) rakes plied by CR. The BHEL rakes, which can run for 25 years, has completed 23 years of its running on the CR. Officials said they are aiming to phasing out rakes with new rakes.

THE CENTRAL Railway (CR) has set up an inquiry to probe why the motor coach of a Thane-bound slow local train caught fire while departing from Dadar railway station on the Central Railway. The three-member committee of officials from the concerned departments of the railways will submit a report. On Friday, commuters had a major scare as a motor coach of a Thane-bound slow local caught fire when it was departing from Dadar at 9.20pm on Friday. Train services were delayed for some time and the train was sent to Byculla car-shed. Officials said the incident happened due to brake binding which refers to an error while applying brakes.

The members have collected evidence from the burnt coach, which will be analysed in the forensic laboratory. “A proper investigation will be done to ascertain the exact cause of the incident. Though pressing of brakes erroneously forms the major reason for such an incident,we will try to ascertain what else could have caused the incident. If there is an entry of an inflammable material like a cigarette in the coach also, it is likely to cause cause fire. We will find out the reason after the probe is over,” a senior railway official said.

The local is one of the eight Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) rakes plied by CR. The BHEL rakes, which can run for 25 years, has completed 23 years of its running on the CR. Officials said they are aiming to phasing out the rakes with new rakes.

“In 2014, CR saw the presence of 16 BHEL rakes. We gradually reduced it to six while only four ply in the system. The DC-AC conversion on the system could also affect the BHEL local running. One cannot guarantee that only because BHEL-manufactured rakes are older in age, this is more likely to happen in BHEL rakes. Such kind of incidences could happen in other types of local trains as well,” a senior CR official added.

A report by Chetan Bakshi, who was the then Commissioner of Railway Safety, Central Circle on the frequent cases of fire in BHEL EMU rakes in 2014 had suggested the “operation of BHEL EMU rakes in Mumbai division of the Central Railway is with danger to public using it” (sic). Out of the nine cases of accidents of fire in EMU rakes then, seven were in BHEL rakes. They suggested increasing maintenance practices and measures to control fire accidents in EMUs (especially in BHEL rakes). Apart from BHEL, CR plies 94 Siemens rakes, 24 retrofitted BHEL rakes and six Bombardier rakes.

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