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Nature's fury caused derailment: Konkan Railway

— Photo: Vivek Bendre

One of the boulders that derailed the Matsyagandha Express near Mahad in Maharashtra on Wednesday.

RAIGAD (MAHARASHTRA), JUNE 16. The Konkan Railway attributed today's derailment of the Matsyagandha Express to nature's fury. The Konkan Railway Managing Director, B. Rajaram, talking to reporters at the accident site, said nature's fury nullified all the precautionary measures taken after last year's accident.

``We have taken the best safety measures over five years of extensive research,'' said Mr. Rajaram, who is known for his innovative ideas and engineering marvels on the Konkan Railway.

After last year's major landslip, the railway got a special sanction from the Ministry to put specially-fabricated high-strength steel nets along the 10-metre high cuttings.

Today's derailment was due to the loosening of the soil in the wake of the heavy downpour that brought down boulders from eight metre cuttings on the engine and led to 11 bogies jumping the tracks.

Two bogies were precariously hanging from the bridge (where the accident occurred) and another four were seen lying in a zig-zag position on the ground. ``I must say that we have realised that even the best foolproof measures does not work against nature's fury,'' Mr. Rajaram said.

Pointing to the cuttings from where the boulders came crashing down, he said the railways would now put steel nets even on the five-metre cuttings to ensure that such landslips do not happen again.

The railway has spent around Rs. 60 crores in executing various safety work, including the fixing of high-strength and medium-strength boulder nets in an area of over 4,30,000 sq. km. It has also installed indigenously-developed 19,000 ``inclinometers," which act as sensors on the soil movement, in cuttings along the slopes which activate the modified "raksha dhaga" boxes and also another innovation "anti-collision devices" on towers nearby.

The flashing red lights and hooters on the ``raksha box'' warn the patrolman even before a cutting falls. In the present case, it is not known if these safety devices were activated.

The railway was to demonstrate these measures to the Railway Minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav, this month.

It has one of the most difficult terrain in its network, having 84-km of tunnel length and a large number of bridges and over 200 deep cuttings along the 760-km route.

A probe will be conducted into the accident, Mr. Rajaram said. — UNI

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