VELLORE: The derailment of a train was averted near Vaniyambadi in the wee hours of Thursday, thanks to the continuous track circuit technology deployed along the Chennai-Jolarpettai tracks by the Southern Railways.
The fractured track in Valaiyampattu near Vaniyambadi caused a signal to turn red, forcing a goods train to stop. Even after the guard cleared the train for operation, the signal remained in red. On inspecting the track, the locopilot found the tracks fractured and buried in soil.
On being informed of the matter, officials from the electrical engineering department from Jolarpettai rushed to the spot. Further inspection revealed that about 13 metres of railway track along the Vaniyambadi-Katpadi-Chennai line were damaged.
Following this, Chennai-bound trains including Kaveri Express, Mangaluru Express, Jolarpettai Express and Thiruvananthapuram Express were stopped at Kothandapatti, Morappur and Vaniyambadi stations. Some 50 railway workers from various stations were brought in to repair the damaged tracks. A preliminary inquiry revealed that the tracks were damaged due to soil erosion following the incessant rains that had lashed the area.
The tracks often get damaged as a large number of trains ply along this route. “The track was laid in 2007 and it might have been damaged after being subjected to different climate conditions,” said an official from the engineering wing of Chennai Division. Sources said a major derailment was prevented as 196-km-long tracks on both sides between Chennai and Jolarpettai are covered by the continuous track circuit technology.
The official said the signal would turn red as soon as a fracture is detected on tracks, even if the open line (signal monitoring team) clears the line. “Rail tracks in Chennai- Chengalpattu and Chennai- Gummudipoondi routes have also been secured by this technology,” said the official. Train services resumed after four hours, letting the trains chug at a caution speed of 5km per hour.
However, disruption in rail services caused thousands of passengers much trouble as they regularly take these trains to get to work and colleges. “Rail commuters of the Vellore district completely depend on these trains as taking bus would increase travel time. About 5,000 passengers travel in Mangaluru, Jolarpettai and Thiruvananthapuram Expresses to reach their offices before 10.30 am. “Most of them were forced to take leave because of the delay”, said R Kannan of Jolarpettai Railway Users Association.
Continuous track circuit technology system
Under the continuous track circuit technology system, a fracture resulting in the separation of the rail would automatically break the circuit and switch the signal to danger (red), even if the open line (signal monitoring team) clears the line.