Southern Railway comes down on officials for poor planning

Railway Board makes permission from zonal railways mandatory for traffic blocks


Southern Railway headquarters has come down heavily on the officials for poor planning and deployment of inadequate and inexperienced workers for taking up commissioning of doubling work between Tirumangalam and Thulukkapatti railway stations that led to massive disruption of train services on March 30 and 31.

This is in contrary to the earlier claim by railway officials that technical glitch had caused detention of nearly 10 express and superfast trains for up to 10 hours on Chennai Egmore-Tirunelveli section March 30.

Besides, several trains had to be short-terminated, diverted or cancelled on subsequent days too.

The massive disruption of train services in the major route drew the attention of Railway Board following which Southern Railway launched an investigation into the bungling.

After Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) completed the doubling work between Tirumangalam (Madurai district) and Thulakkapatti (Virudhunagar district) railway stations and Commissioner of Railway Safety clearing the section, the railway officials took up the work of integrating the new line with the existing broad-gauge line.

The work involved points and crossings integration in four yards in Tirumangalam, Kalligudi, Virudhunagar and Thulukkapatti railway stations and 10 level crossing gates. After completing the preliminary non-interlocking (NI) work for nine days from March 22, the railway authorities had granted a line block on the section between 9.45 a.m. and 6 p.m. of March 30.

The huge volume of work to be simultaneously taken up in four yards, including a major yard, and 10 LC gates with a traffic block of eight hours required meticulous planning and availability of experienced and adequate technical staff, an official circular from Southern Railway noted.

However, the probe found that lack of proper planning and non-availability of adequate technical staff with experience led to bursting of block “abnormally” that got extended by almost 24 hours and disrupted train services.

“The continuity of work as well as mismatch of cable wiring by unskilled wiremen created more work during the traffic block period,” the circular said.

Besides, the delay in timely completion of engineering and traction distribution works led to further delay of signal and telecommunication works. “Commissioning of block proving axle counter (BPAC) on Tirumangalam-Tirupparankundram section took more than 24 hours as RVNL did not wire a new system, but instead depended on the old system,” the circular said.

“All this point out lack of adequate preparation, taking up pre-NI and NI works without being ready for the same, lack of planning, foresight, inability to muster adequate resources resulted in bursting of traffic block on March 30,” it added.

Consequently, Railway Board has directed the zonal railways to allow traffic blocks for taking up works only after senior most officer responsible for the work gave a certificate that all precautions were put in place.

The circular said that hereafter only zonal headquarters would grant permission for blocks for pre-NI/NI works after receipt of a certificate, one week before the schedule of work, from the Divisional Railway Manager concerned that the executing organisation was ready in all respects.

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