If you imagined that the brand new Duronto Express that rolled out of Chennai towards Madurai on Sunday last would make rail journey interesting, perish the thought.
For starters, the only new element is the name; everything else is old. The bogies are over 23 years old and close to retirement. Besides, most coaches do not have fire extinguishers.
When this reporter peeped around, he found boards on coaches saying that their year of manufacture was 1989. When contacted, a senior official on condition of anonymity, conceded that most of the coaches have run for 23 years in other sections, mainly in Delhi route for Rajdhani trains. “These coaches can be used maximum for another eight months,” he said.Of the 15 coaches in the train, fire extinguisher were missing in five, include three passenger bogies and two that house diesel generators for the AC units. “For the remaining 10 coaches, though the fire extinguishers are available, they have been stocked in one compartment and not placed in the designated location in each coach. So much for rail safety!”
Another missing element is the indicator light on AC coaches. It helps officials locate the coach in which the chain has been pulled to stop it during emergency.“In normal coaches, you can easily hear the sound of the vacuum release if the chain is pulled, but in AC coaches, it is the lights that act as indicators, as the sound comes from the compressor,” a technician said.
`500 Fine On Those Dirtying stations
In a bid to drive home the message on cleanliness, the Railways would soon impose a penalty of `500 on those found littering Railway premises.