South Western Railways headquartered in Karnataka on Sunday recognised swift action and life-saving work by loco pilot Ranjeet Kumar, assistant loco pilot Hashid K and guard Shailender Kumar in the early hours of Friday and handed out a cash reward of Rs 10,000. The awardees were on duty of the Train No 01134 (Mangaluru Jn - Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai). The train was derailed in the Ghat Section due to a landslide caused by heavy rains.
These officials displayed alertness, and presence of mind, noted senior officials including General Manager SWR Gajanan Mallya. He said the crew acted as āfirst responderā at site, even before the rescue team arrived, resulting in saving the lives of passengers. With the instructions from the headquarters, the crew managed not only to unlock some coaches which were in the risk of getting under mud piles but also utilised the rear (banking) engine to help move passengers to safety.
āOn Friday, at about 6.10 AM, while driving the engine of this train from Kulem towards Castle Rock (up the Ghat), at km 39/800 near Dudhsagar-Sonaulim section, Shri Ranjeet Kumar observed that the mud was slipping ahead on the track from the side walls of the hill beside the track, due to continuous very heavy rainfall. Sensing danger, he immediately applied emergency brakes and brought the train to a stop. Due to mud and soil mixed with boulders on the track,the engine derailed along with two sets of wheels, despite the immediate braking,ā Aneesh Hegde, Chief Public Relations Officer, SWR, said.
āUpon noticing emergency brakes being applied, the guard of the train Shri Shailder Kumar applied hand brakes to the Brake Van, which is situated rear most of the train and then proceeded to the engine. Parallely the Guard and Locopilot instructed the Assistant Locopilots of the leading and banking engines to place detonators at stipulated distance on the track at both rear and front, and also secured the train by tying chains to the track, placing wheel-skids, etc as per standard safety protocol,ā he added.
Further, Ranjeet and Shailender noticed that from the steep indent of the hill beside the track, slush and mud were also falling on the coaches immediately rear to the front engine. āIn order to ensure protection of passengers, they shifted the passengers from the first three coaches to the rear coaches, and un-coupled these coaches from the rest of the train,ā the official further said.
Rail officials reiterated that the Castle Rock - Kulem Ghat section is 27 kms long and is a single line rail section passing through Western Ghats in uninhabited territory through forests. The entire Ghat section has a steep gradient and trains are pushed with engines in rear in addition to the engines in front. The stations between Castle Rock and Kulem, namely Caranzol, Dudhsagar and Sonaulim are connected only by rail with no road connectivity.