Days ahead of the fatal accidents, a passenger had alerted the railway authorities on the impending threat due to infringement of the concrete fence and the foot overbridge pillar at the railway station, railway sources said.
Though the Southern Railway General Manager and the Divisional Railway Manager (Chennai Division) took serious note of the safety issue and ordered an inspection, officials of the engineering wing conducted a study and gave a report that the design was well within the specified parameters.
A senior railway official, who accessed the detailed report of Mr. Manoharan, told The Hindu on Monday that the distance between the passing trains and the concrete fence/steel pillar was 200 mm more towards the track than the specified safe distance which brought passengers travelling on footboard closer to the protruding structures.
“As regards EMU No. 40701 that met with an accident on July 24, a public announcement was made at the Beach Station that the train would run on the fast lane due to operational reasons. But the passengers were unaware of the protruding structures at the St. Thomas Mount Railway Station where the EMU entered at a speed of about 50 kmph…the design specifications of pale fence at curves were found not in conformity with the schedule of designs,” the official said, adding that the rectification of the design fault when the alert came could have prevented the accidents.
Besides recommending immediate removal of the infringing concrete fence and payment of ex gratia to the victims, the CRS, in his provisional findings, has also suggested that automatic door closing system and longitudinal seating (like in metro trains) be introduced for enhanced safety.
Soon after the report was submitted, railway officials removed the infringements and sent the compliance report to the office of the CRS. In an unprecedented move, the Railway Claims Tribunal had taken suo moto cognisance of the accidents and awarded compensation to the victims.