Fire in SLR van of Malabar Express

Two motorcycles were destroyed in a fire that broke out in the seating-cum-luggage rake/van (SLR) of the 06630 Mangaluru Central- Thiruvananthapuram Central Special Malabar Express when the train was approaching the Edava railway station, 40 km from here, on Sunday.

No one was injured in the incident, Railways said. The Railways have ordered a joint departmental inquiry into the incident.

The smoke, emanating from the luggage portion of the front SLR, was noticed first by a gatekeeper at the level crossing gate 555 at Edava around 7.45 a.m.

The gatekeeper alerted the station master, Varkala, who in turn alerted the railway control in the divisional headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram. Along with alerting the loco pilots and guards of the train, sources said the traction power was switched off remotely from the control here bringing the train to a halt near the Edava station.

Loco pilots and guards used fire extinguishers available at the train to control the fire. As the blaze could not be controlled and the two motorcycles were engulfed in fire, Fire and Rescue Services assistance was sought. Two units from the nearby Paravur fire station rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire. Two motorcycles that were loaded from Kasaragod railway station were gutted. After dousing the fire, the train was moved to Varkala railway station.

At Varkala, the Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer, Thiruvananthapuram Division, inspected the SLR and certified it fit for further running up to Thiruvananthapuram.

At Thiruvananthapuram Central, a joint forensic inspection was conducted to find the cause of the fire. The SLR had been detached from the rake for inquiry. Preliminary reports said the petrol in the motorcycle might have led to the fire following a short circuit in the SLR.

A commercial supervisor of Kasaragod railway station has been placed under suspension by Palakkad division authorities following the incident. A thorough check of motorcycles booked as luggage/parcel was conducted over Palakkad Division and ensured there was no presence of fuel in the tank.

The inquiry committee has been asked to submit the report by January 24, sources said.

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