Alert locomotive pilots of Madgaon- Dadar Jan Shatabdi Express averted a major tragedy by stopping the train in time after they spotted a huge piece of rail “placed meticulously” on tracks near Diva station adjoining Mumbai, officials said.
Top Railway officials suspect it could either be an act of sabotage or mischief and have lodged an FIR with Railway Police.
The incident occurred last night when the Mumbai-bound Jan Shatabdi Express (12052) had crossed Mumbra station and was nearing Diva station. Both Mumbra and Diva are located in Thane district, neighbouring the financial capital.
According to an officer, there were more than 700 passengers travelling in the train at that time.
At around 10:37 PM, Loco pilot Harendra Kumar and Assistant Loco pilot Harish Chinchole spotted a huge piece of rail placed on one line of the track and stopped the train in nick of time, said Central Railway General Manager D K Sharma.
He said the rail was 7-meter long and weighed around 400 kg.
Given the sensitivity of the incident which occurred ahead of the Republic Day, the officer said they have increased vigil, patrolling and monitoring of tracks.
“Jan Shatabdi (12052) train started from Madgaon on Tuesday at 2.30 pm and was scheduled to reach Mumbai around 11 pm. However, at 10.37 pm, when the train reached between Mumbra and Diva stations, the drivers spotted the 7-meter-long and around 400-kg piece of the rail, meticulously placed on one track.
“They stopped the train, got down, and removed the rail with the help of the chief loco inspector N K Yadav and the passengers and then proceeded,” Sharma told reporters.
Incidentally, a CST-bound fast local had passed on the same track just 17 minutes earlier.
“This means this piece was placed on the track deliberately for nefarious reasons after the local train had passed,” Sharma said.
A rail piece is generally placed along tracks so that in case of emergency, like a rail fracture, these pieces can be used immediately.
“The area where the rail was placed is inhabited. Railway Police has registered an FIR and launched a multi-pronged investigation to nab the culprits,” Sharma said, adding the police commissioner of Mumbai and Maharashtra DGP were informed about the incident.
He said this could be the act of a handful of people and the administration has taken the incident very seriously.
“This could be an act of terrorism, an act of sabotage or an act of mischief…our agencies are investigating the matter from all possible angles,” the GM said.
Meanwhile, responding to a query whether it was an act of terrorism, Chief Security Commissioner of Central Railway Atul Srivastav said it would be premature to draw such conclusion.