Archive for April, 2009

41 years later, motormen’s mentor applies brakes

MUMBAI: Malayil George John (M.J.JOHN) called it a day on Wednesday after dedicating 41 years of his life to the Indian Railways.

For over four long decades, this Senior Loco Inspector (Training) has tutored thousands of motormen at Motorman’s Training Center in the Kurla car shed__so much so that there is probably not a single motorman on the Central Railway (CR) suburban line who hasn’t benefited from John’s skill and wisdom. So, it’s not surprising that on his last day, he is surrounded by colleagues, motormen and relatives as they bid him farewell at a function in CST.

One needs to be "god fearing” to be a good motorman, insists John. "As a motorman, who has the lives of thousands of commuters in his hands, he should abstain from drinking, smoking and other vices and he should rest adequately. If one is god fearing, all these qualities will fall into place,” he said. One of the thumb rules of this veteran trainer is that a motorman should stay back home if he has had a particularly nasty fight and feeling disturbed and edgy.

John’s wife, Aleyamma looks on proudly at him, as he talks to his colleagues on his last day at work. "The only problem being married to a man in this profession is the erratic hours,” she says. "He would always be either in the control room or the institute. There were days when we did not meet each other, but with time, we adjusted to the fact that this was how life would be like. We needed to survive in this city.”

Colleague and close friend, senior loco inspector (suburban), Merywn Desa says though the institute will miss John sorely, he has done his job so thoroughly that other trainers will not face much difficulty in making up for his loss. "He trained the others so well that they will take off where he left without many hitches,” says Desa.

Motormen, who have been trained in technical, operational and trouble-shooting issues, remember John as a dedicated and emotional man. Motorman Rajesh Pillai says John was particular about keeping records. "He would take the register home if he could not complete it during work hours,” he says. "He also had a great relationship with his students.”

John credits his job for making him "a perfect man”, dedicated to family and duty. In his four-decade long stint with the railways, John has had 14 run-over cases. "The first two or three times, I felt so bad that I took two days’ leave after each accident. But later, I realised that it’s a job hazard and we are compelled by duty,” he says. And that’s what he tells the young men and the odd young woman whom he trains. "It’s a job, do it as you are compelled by it.”

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Unauthorised persons speed off with EMU, collide with a goods train 7 km later


In a bizarre accident, an unspecified number of persons took over a suburban electric train, drove it for about seven kms at high speed before colliding with a goods train head on, killing four persons and injuring 11 others early Wednesday morning. Railway police sources, however, put the figure of the dead at six.

The Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) train was taken out of the Central station here from the suburban Moore Market complex at around 4.50 am, half an hour before schedule. The train ran at high speed jumping the signal at the next station going on a wrong track before colliding head-on with a Chennai-bound goods train at Vyasarpadi Jeeva station in the north western suburb, two halts from Central, in the ChennaiArakkonam section.

As the Chennai-Tiruvallur EMU train started moving, some waiting commuters boarded it thinking it was a regular service. Two EMU compartments were destroyed in the fire caused by the collision and rest were thrown off the tracks.

Acting General Manager of Southern Railway M S Jayanth said four persons were killed, but Railway police sources put the figure of dead at six. While the exact number of those in the driver’s cabin was not not known, Jayanth said it was definitely the handiwork of ‘some knowledgeable miscreants’ who had driven the train since it involved operation of four keys, including panel, brake, reversal. It is a high-tech machine," Jayanth said but ruled out involvement of a railway driver or other officials. The identity of the miscreants was not known, he said. The Commissioner of Railway Safety would hold an inquiry.

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Sholapur Air View


Solapur City Air View


Dr. B.R.Ambedkar Railway Stadium


Sholapur Railway Station

Solapur City Air View

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Manhole thief derails train-Motorman Mr. M.K.Zinge prevented accident


100s of passengers on Thane-Nerul train miraculously escape a derailment that was caused by a stolen manhole cover. Alert motorman M K Zinge applied emergency brakes when he saw the thief, but by the time the train stopped, the first few wheels had run over the manhole cover, derailing a coach.

The 4.10 pm Thane-Nerul train on the Harbour line crossed Airoli station as usual at 4.16 pm on Friday. It was just approaching Rabale station when the motorman, A K Zinge, saw a person dragging a huge object across the track, about 200 metres from the train. In an instant, Zinge pressed the horn, the person dropped the object in panic, Zinge applied emergency brakes, the train hurtled over the object and the sudden movement derailed a coach. The alert motorman had averted a near-fatal accident that could have killed hundreds of commuters.

The object on the tracks turned out to be a 3×3 feet manhole cover, which a thief had stolen from a footpath adjacent to the Harbour line tracks. The person must have been dragging the heavy concrete cover across the tracks, when he saw the train approaching. Realising that he would not make it across in time, he dumped the cover in front of the coming train and fled.

The train had been travelling at 40 to 50 kmph at the time of the incident. Though Zinge started pressing the horn to warn the person, he realised time was running out. “The next few moments were crucial for the safety of commuters. I immediately applied emergency brakes. The manhole cover was barely 50 metres from the train at the time,” Zinge said, still shivering at the thought.

By the time the train came to a halt, the first few wheels had run over the manhole cover, derailing the first coach. Commuter Kushal Kshirsagar was shaken by the incident. “The train made a loud noise before it came to a screeching halt. A few metal parts flew off from the tracks when it derailed. I jumped off the train and saw the manhole cover stuck underneath the tracks,” he said.

Another commuter, Manoj Shukla, who was on the train, said, “I was standing on the footboard when I saw a man struggling with a huge concrete cover on the tracks. The motorman kept pressing the horn and when the man realised the train was getting too close, he panicked and ran.”

S C Mudgerikar, CPRO of CR added, “A major accident was averted as Zinge was alert. We will conduct a detailed enquiry into the matter. The services on the route resumed by 6.16 pm.”

Train services disrupted

The train service on the Harbour Line of the Central Railway remained disrupted for the next two hours as Railway officials had to arrange for a crane to put the train back on the tracks. Meanwhile, the Thane-Vashi and Thane-Panvel services were diverted to another line. S N Datar, Senior Police Inspector of Rabale police station said, “The manhole cover was stolen from near the tracks.”

Passengers gathered around the derailed train. Services on the Harbour Line resumed after 6 pm.

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New Siemens rakes to get a yellow `face’

New rakes to get a yellow `face’ 22 Apr 2009, 0414 hrs IST, Roana Maria Costa, TNN
MUMBAI: After receiving complaints from track maintenance staff that the grey-coloured frontal portions of the new MRVC-Siemens rakes are not visible in the dark, both Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) have started painting them a bright yellow. The grey `face’ of the swanky new white-purple trains, on both the motorman and the guard’s end, will be changed.
Officials from MRVC said that members from the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad suggested various colour schemes including this one. They took feedback from the staff as well as the commuters. The study was carried out around seven months ago. Both CR and WR have agreed to this new colour scheme.
"All the new rakes rolling out of the Integral Coach Factory (manufacturers of the new rakes) will now have their front portions painted yellow,” said an official from MRVC.
Chief CR PRO S C Mudgerikar said the rakes would be painted over the next three months.
WR officials also said that four of the 24 new rakes in service have already received a coat of paint in their Mumbai Central carshed.

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Railways to start taxi service soon

After slashing the passenger fares, the railway ministry is set to make journey to the railway stations more comfortable by offering taxi service to railway stations. Soon, passengers will be able to book taxi service at competitive rates by dialing 139 – the call centre code which currently provides information about PNR and arrival/departure status of trains.
Initially, the Railway Ministry plans to launch the taxi service in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and 20 other important cities. "The aim of the service is to help passenger get rid of their woes in fetching a taxi and pay the actual charge incurred," a senior Railway official said.
According to sources, the ministry will tie up with authorized car rental agencies at selected cities to provide this service.
Passengers will also be given a choice to select the type of the car they wish to travel. “One can hire an Indica, or Wagon R or can even ask for a luxury car”, a senior official said.

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