CHENNAI: At a time when the Indian Railways is grappling with safety issues following two derailments in the last one week, it emerged that a retired locomotive pilot is fighting to bring out the truth about an incident, which took place in Chennai earlier this year. It poses serious question over rail safety.
On May 3, a locomotive pilot proceeding towards Washermanpet from Royapuram applied brake after noticing about 10 metres of the track ahead removed. There were no coaches attached to the engine. Sources say the Washermanpet home signal flashed the amber sign, which gives the permission to the pilot to proceed with caution.
That should not have happened as the ‘continuous track circuiting technology’ was in place. If there is a break in the circuit, as in this case, the signal will automatically turn red.
On May 15, B Subba Reddy, a veteran pilot with more than three decades’ service, filed a right to information (RTI) petition. In his petition, he sought to know about the action taken, besides requesting the data log of the signal concerned.
In its reply dated June 15, the Railways stated that the “inquiry is in progress” and failed to provide the answers as “it would impede the process of investigation or apprehension/prosecution of offenders”.
Unsatisfied with the reply, Reddy approached the first appellant authority on July 12. He is now waiting to hear back from the Railways about his appeal. In the light of the recent Utkal Express tragedy, which has yet again brought into public spotlight the issue of rail safety, Reddy said it was crucial that the Railways should respond to his request.