BENGALURU : Railway track maintainer K H Anand Kumar, 30, figured among the 18 railway employees awarded by the Bengaluru Railway division for ensuring public safety in an exemplary manner during the last two months. In Kumar’s case, he spotted a rail fracture before the Yesvantpur-Hassan Intercity Express could arrive and averted a possible train derailment. A native of Shantigram in Hassan, this ITI pass out has completed four years in the Pathway Department of the Engineering Section. His shift involves patrolling 13 to 15 km daily on railway tracks between Channarayapatna and Shantigram.
The New Indian Express met him to understand the crucial role of trackmen in ensuring rail safety particularly in extreme cold or heat. On the day of the incident (Jan 20), Kumar began his shift as usual at 7 am. “After I had covered a few km in the direction from Shantigram to Sharavanabelagola, I suddenly noticed a major gap on one of the rails near Dandiganahalli village. I knew there was still an hour left for the intercity to pass this route and set to do my job immediately,” he said.
A track man lugs around heavy baggage while patrolling. Fish plate, clamps, bolts, 10 detonators, a green, and a red flag are his work tools. “Since there was sufficient time before the arrival of the train, I put fishplates on either side of the rail and fastened them with clamps and bolts. After ensuring the gap was sealed, I called up the Shantigram station master and the Junior Engineer of the Pathway department and informed them.”
A cautionary order was immediately imposed on the stretch with trains permitted to run only at 10 kmph on this route. “The Yesvantpur-Hassan train, which usually runs at 60 kmph, later passed through with the new speed limit imposed,” he added. Meanwhile, railway officials and workmen came down and did the rest.“It was the first time in my four years in the Railways that I witnessed something like this. I was tense at first.”
Kumar said the first step a trackman is expected do is to walk 1,200 metres from the spot and place a red flag in the centre. "We are directed to place three sound detonators which emit a big sound when wheels come in contact with them. It is done to alert the locopilot."