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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

MRTS train derails - another Amtrak passenger train too !

Derailment : 
1. To run or cause to run off the rails.
2. To come or bring to a sudden halt: a campaign derailed by lack of funds; a policy that derailed under the new administration.

For many of us – day begins and ends with MRTS - Mass Rapid Transit System from Chennai Beach to Velachery; the  route is largely elevated. From Beach to Chennai Park Townstation, the line runs at grade, parallel to the suburban railway network. Following Chennai Park Town station, the line's first phase becomes elevated and follows the course of the Buckingham Canal, which runs parallel to the Coromandel Coast. The line remains elevated for the alignment of the second phase up to Perungudi, after which it returns to an at-grade section at Velachery. The 19 km (12 mi) line from Chennai Beach to Velachery is 15 km (9 mi) elevated and 4 km (2 mi) at surface- has 18 stations between.

From 14th May 2014,  MRTS stopped at another new station – not exactly new, built and awaiting this day for long …. It is ‘Mundaka Kanni Amman Koil Station’. Yesterday there was some trouble - rail services on the MRTS stretch from Chennai Beach to Velachery were disrupted following derailment of a train near the Light House station. Train 41056 from Velachery derailed at 12.35 p.m. between Mundakakanniammankoil Station and Light House station.

“The second coach from the guard derailed and none was injured. The ladies coach was rerailed at 14.35 hours. At least six trains have been cancelled,” said a railway spokesperson.  This photo taken from The Hindu shows the wheels off the track – the train reportedly stopped nearer the station – passengers got down and walked down the track to the station – none were injured.  A committee reportedly  has been constituted to ascertain the cause of derailment and the report would be ready in 10 days according to an Official.   

After a four-hour disruption, the services resumed at 4.45 p.m. The Hindu reports that the derailment has thrown into high relief the issue of manpower shortage. Railway sources say many vacant posts have not been filled, which has resulted in lack of sufficient manpower for carrying out maintenance of the tracks.  The report adds that  Southern Railway General Manager Vashishta Johri, however  brushed aside this charge and said periodic maintenance was carried out by electrical supervisors. According to railway employees, vacancies in the posts of train examiner and khalasi are not being filled. It is believed that this attitude stems from an anticipation of a future when such work will be handed over to private operators. In an earlier derailment, not too far from the current location, poor maintenance of tracks was cited as the major reason. Fortunately the mishap was not major, none were injured – something intriguing on what is derailment !

The track on a railway, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast (or slab track), plus the underlying subgrade. It enables trains to move by providing a dependable surface for their wheels to roll. Tracks where electric trains or electric trams run are equipped with an electrification system such as an overhead electrical power line or an additional electrified rail. The term permanent way also refers to the track in addition to lineside structures such as fences etc.

Notwithstanding modern technical developments, the overwhelmingly dominant track form worldwide consists of flat-bottom steel rails supported on timber or pre-stressed concrete sleepers  which are themselves laid on crushed stone ballast. Railroad tracks guide the train, acting as the low-friction surface on which the train runs and often transferring the weight of the train to the ground below.  The rails consists of two parallel steel rails set a fixed distance apart, called the gauge. The rails are connected to each other by sleepers, which may be made of wood or concrete. The rails are usually bolted to the ties. The ties are set into the loose gravel or ballast. Ballast often consists of loose stones that help transfer the load to the underlying foundation. The ties "float" on the ballast and the weight of the track keeps them stabilized.

Steel tracks can be straight or curved to steer the train since steel is easily bent into shape. Depending upon the topography, some curves may be slightly angled or banked to help the train stay on the track as it negotiates the curve. At various points along the track, rails may have switches, which can move a train from one track to another.

Trains run on tracks ~and this one went off the track – services were restored before evening peak traffic – not many knew or cared to know that there was this derailment – some workers worked hard to restore and place the system back in place.

Miles away, in Northfield, Vermont – an Amtrak passenger train derailed injuring six people, officials said. There were no fatalities. A  spokeswoman with the Montpelier Fire Department, said at least two cars went off the track and over an embankment. The train, the Vermonter, was headed from Vermont to Washington, D.C. Federal investigators said the preliminary cause of the accident was a rock slide in the path of the train. A full investigation to confirm the cause is underway, officials said.

Photo credit : CNN
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th Oct 2015.

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