Thursday, May 11, 2017

By Venkatesan Parthasarathy | Express News Service | Published: 11th May 2017 

A section of the track was removed but the signal still flashed amber I Express

CHENNAI: It could have resulted in a mishap had the locomotive pilot failed to notice that a section of the track was removed. Under the circumstances, the signal should have flashed red but it did not. The incident has raised serious questions over the reliability of signalling systems which play a crucial role in the safety of trains.

According to railway sources, on May 3, at around 3.20 pm, an engine, with no coaches attached, was proceeding towards Washermanpet from Royapuram. The Washermanpet station home signal flashed the amber sign, which gives the permission to the loco pilot to proceed with caution. “But the pilot, who had a clear view, noticed about 10 metres of the track was missing. Luckily, he applied the brakes,” the source said.

Veteran pilots say this incident should have never happened, as the signal was assisted by the ‘continuous track circuiting technology’. This technology involves an electrical device used to detect the absence of a train on rail tracks. This information is then relayed to signals. This technology has been installed on important suburban lines, including the Chennai-Gummidipoondi section.

Railway officials told Express that an enquiry is currently ongoing with the incident being looked at as engineering failure. But pilots claim this is an easy excuse. Describing it a serious issue, a former pilot, with over 30 years of experience, said, “The pilot is guided by the signal. Fortunately, this incident happened during the day and not in the night.”


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