The locomotive of the Bikaner-Guwahati Express, which derailed on January 13 in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri, had been running without any trip inspection for about 18,000 km when such examination is needed every 4,500 km, a preliminary enquiry has found.
The Commission of Railway Safety, in a letter to the general manager of Northeast Frontier Railway, has also raised red flags on ”ghost examinations” being conducted on the rail network.
It stated that the locomotive had undergone trip inspection last on December 6, 2021. ”Since then, it was running continuously and logged about 18,000 km before eventual derailment of the loco attended with fallen traction motor-2 on 13.1.2022 while working train no 15633 UP.
”As per prescribed inspection schedule WAP 4 locomotive shall undergo trip inspection at every 4,500 km which was not ensured,” the letter stated.
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Trip inspection is an important safety examination in which the undergear of a locomotive is inspected by a trained railway official to ensure safety.
It is expected that Railways has institutionalised a system to monitor and ensure that it is done in time, the letter by the Commission of Railway Safety stated.
”From the documents presented during the enquiry, it came to light that in one of the loco links issued by Samastipur Division of the East Central Railway, electric locos have been allotted to undergo trip inspection at NCB (New Coochbehar) and AF (Agra Fort).
”Both these locations have no facility for trip examinations. How such ghost examination can take place is a matter of investigation by Railways,” it said.
The Commission of Railway Safety has recommended that the Railways takes necessary steps to ensure that trip inspections are monitored for each locomotive.
It shall be the Railway’s responsibility to ensure that a Locomotive undergoes all scheduled attention and examination, including trip inspection, on time, the panel stated.
The Railway shall check that all stations nominated for inspection of locomotives have requisite facilities and loco links issued by Railway are executable in the field to ensure timely inspection and maintenance.
Safety organisation of Railway should be drafted to check the loco links and ensure necessary corrective action where ever required, the panel added.
A final report on the accident, that claimed nine lives, is still awaited.