Initial investigation finds locomotive traveled 18,000km unchecked and warns of ‘ghost’ review

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The Bikaner-Guwahati Express locomotive, which derailed on Jan. 13 in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri, had been running without any trip inspection for around 18,000 kms while such an examination is required every 4,500 kms, according to an investigation preliminary. The Rail Safety Commission, in a letter to the managing director of Northeast Frontier Railway, also raised red flags over ongoing ‘ghost reviews’ across the rail network.

He said the locomotive last underwent trip inspection on December 6, 2021. 15633 UP. In accordance with the prescribed inspection schedule, the WAP 4 locomotive must undergo a trip inspection every 4,500 km, which was not guaranteed,” the letter states.

Trip inspection is an important safety review in which the undercarriage of a locomotive is inspected by a trained railway officer to ensure safety. The railways are expected to have institutionalized a system to monitor and ensure this is done on time, the letter from the Rail Safety Commission said.

“From the documents presented during the investigation, it appeared that in one of the locomotive links issued by the Samastipur division of the East Central Railway, electric locomotives were assigned to undergo a journey inspection at NCB (New Coochbehar) and AF (Agra Fort). Both of these places have no facilities for travel reviews. How such ghost review can take place is a matter of investigation by the railways”, did he declare.

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The Rail Safety Commission has recommended that railways take the necessary steps to ensure trip inspections are monitored for every locomotive. It is the railroad’s responsibility to ensure that a locomotive undergoes all scheduled care and examinations, including trip inspection, on time, the panel said.

The railway shall verify that all stations designated for locomotive inspection have the required facilities and that railway-issued locomotive links are field executable to ensure timely inspection and maintenance. The railway safety organization should be drafted to check locomotive connections and ensure necessary corrective action where needed, the panel added.

A final report on the accident, which claimed the lives of nine people, is still awaited.

First post: STI

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