Assistant driver dies as train engine catches fire
The assistant loco pilot (ALP) of the Mumbai-bound 12810 Howrah Mail died after the engine caught fire between Talni and Dhamangaon, 90km from here under Nagpur division of Central Railway, on Sunday evening. The victim has been identified as SK Vishwakarma (32), a native of Gaya in Bihar, and residing in Railway Quarters at Ajni Colony, Nagpur.
Sources said the train had left 20 minutes late from Nagpur around 2.45pm, and reached Pulgaon 50 minutes behind schedule. When the train was passing through Talni, at around 4.56pm, loco pilot DL Bramhe and Vishwakarma saw smoke emanating from the engine.
There is no official information on how the engine caught fire, and whether it was maintained as per norms. The loco WAP-4 (22936) was introduced in 1994, whereas the railways have switched over to the WAP-7 versions now.
Central Railway chief public relations officer (CPRO) Sunil Udasi said that when Vishwakarma noticed the fire, he tried to douse it with a fire extinguisher. “Vishwakarma fell down from the running train while observing the train, as is usually done by ALPs as per procedure. He was rushed to the military hospital at Pulgaon, where he was declared dead. No passengers were hurt,” said Udasi.
However, railway sources said that when Vishwakarma was trying to extinguish the fire, there was a blast in the transformer, and he was thrown out, and died due to grievous head injuries. The train was reportedly running at 80-100 kmph when the smoke appeared.
Some railway sources also speculate that the smoke caused suffocation and Vishwakarma tried to save himself by stepping out of the cabin, and was thrown out. None of the passengers were injured as loco pilot Bramhe applied the brakes to stop the train.
Loco pilot DL Bramhe also suffered injuries and burns, but is said to be out of danger. He has been admitted in a hospital at Dhamangaon.
Railway officials said only an inquiry by safety and electrical department would be able to reveal the exact cause of the fire. The stricken engine has been sealed and parked at Dhamangaon station siding.
The damaged engine was replaced by a spare summoned from Wardha, and the train moved onward after nearly three hours. Due to the mishap, at least 10 trains were delayed between 20 minutes and 2 hours.
When news of Vishwakarma’s death reached Ajni Colony, a pall of gloom descended upon the railway quarters.