Another sabotage bid? Alert loco pilot averts major rail mishap on Diva-Panvel stretch

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A major disaster was averted on Monday night after the train driver of the Pune-Santragachi Express applied emergency brakes after the train hit part of a five-foot piece of rail placed diagonally over the track near Kalamboli station on the Diva-Panvel stretch. Though the train dragged the piece of rail for a few metres, the train and its passengers were unharmed.

Railway officials, along with a railway engineer, rushed to the spot after the driver informed the railway control room. “The engineer removed the piece of rail and allowed the train to continue on its journey,” said a railway official. He added that the train halted for about 45 minutes.

A case has been registered against unidentified persons at Kalamboli police station. A Navi Mumbai police team, along with railway officials, also visited the site of the mishap.

Police said the train hit the piece of rail at around 7.16 pm, after crossing Kalamboli station. “The train was running late by about six hours. It departed from Panvel station at about 7.04 pm,” said an officer.

According to a railway official, a disaster was averted as the train was running at a slow speed. “If the train was running at top speed, it could have resulted in a major accident,” said the official. A number of south-bound trains, including the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains operate along this stretch.

Prakash Nilewad, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) of Zone II said, “We are investigating the matter from all angles. Miscreants must have placed the piece of rail on the track after the oncoming train must have thwarted their bid to steal it”. Nilewad, however, did not rule out the possibility of sabotage. “A section of the union has been protesting against the Railways over salary issues. There is a possibility that they could have done it,” said Nilewad.

“Though the incident took place outside the purview of Navi Mumbai police jurisdiction, a case has been registered at Kalamboli police station,” said Nilewad, adding that other agencies like the GRP, RPF, IB and ATS are also probing different angles.

Ravindra Goyal, Divisional Railway Manager of Central Railway said, “We have already taken a number of steps to prevent such incidents in the future, including increased patrolling.”

Sachin Bhalode, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner said: “It is very difficult to monitor the railway track as the piece of rail could have been placed at any time.”