Central Railway (CR) has come up with a permanent solution for the falling boulders in the ghat section known for disrupting services during monsoon. CR has recreated steel tunnels which will trap falling boulders and protect the passing trains below.
Last year, CR deployed 60 additional CCTV cameras, posted gangmen, rock-bolting at 750m stretch and drone cameras to alert approaching trains, but all were of limited help. In 2017, three passengers on the Hubli-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) Express suffered injuries after a boulder came crashing through the roof while it was passing through Khandala ghat.
After the problem was analysed last year, it was revealed that the increased incidents of boulders falling on tracks along with mud had been due to heavy monsoon.
So, officials started working on the steel tunnel portal extension last year in four tunnels. “The work has been progressing with the lockdown in place and will be completed before the monsoon sets in,” CR chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said.
“Work of removing loose boulders is still underway and at present, we are running boulder special trains, and patrolling the mountains to scan loose boulders and tunnels,” he added.
Historically, the Indian Railways has been dealing with the problem of boulders in this stretch since its inception. But they never cancelled these many trains to manage the situation as they have done in recent years. The archival records of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, which is now called Central Railway, on the initiation of passenger rail service on the ghat section in 1864, had issued a notice on the operation of the ‘terrain section’ by dividing the entire stretch into 13 parts with three watchmen deputed for each.