Ants on train blamed for local’s brake failure

Mumbai Mirror | Nov 19, 2015, 04.07 AM IST

By Kamal Mishra

Ants on a train brake system
A colony of red ants was found in the brake box of the local that suffered the brake failure

They are tiny, stay in a colony, are very diligent and now it emerges that are capable of bringing a train down and hundreds of passengers along with it. A handful of ants found in the brake box of a local train on the central suburban line is believed to be the reason behind local’s brake failure on Tuesday.

Around 1 pm, CST-bound local from Kalyan was pulling into the Matunga station when motorman AK Dubey applied the regenerating brakes to pick up passengers at the station. When the train did not respond, he applied the electro-pneumatic brakes. But nothing happened and Dubey had to pull the emergency brake to avert an impending tragedy. The train halted to a stop with a jerk and a loud noise but at least the last resort had worked.

Dubey then asked the train guard to relay the information and apprise the control room of the brake failure. The train was then operated at restricted speed from Matunga till CST.

Once the passengers deboarded, the train was taken to the carshed for a thorough check-up. That is when engineers realised that the colony of ants living in the brake box had somehow debilitated the cables. Cables for both regenerating and electro-pneumatic brakes pass through the brake box. It seems that the ants had chewed through the cables and this is what might have led to the cables not being able to relay the application of brakes between the motorman’s cabin and the wheels.

The rake had been serviced only last month at the Matunga workshop. “This incident raises questions about the periodic overhaul,” said Vikram Solanki, chairman of Mumbai unit of Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh. Moreover, pest control is also part of the regular overhaul process, he said.

“It’s a rarest of rare type of incident. We will examine the cause,” said Amitabh Ojha, DRM, Central Railway, Mumbai division. In 2013, a similar incident had been reported when a local suffered brake failure. In that incident too, ants were found in the brake box.

SOURCE: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/others/Ants-on-a-train-blamed-for-locals-brake-failure/articleshow/49838618.cms