Rail clip theft raises concerns over safety on Dedicated Freight Corridor

Fifty-four elastic rail clips and liners were reportedly stolen from the dedicated freight Western Corridor at Silani village in Sohna, raising concerns about railway safety. Officials from the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) on Sunday revealed this incident while highlighting that the timely discovery of the theft helped avert a potential train accident. This marked the second theft of its kind in the area within the past ten days.

The theft came to light at 7 a.m. on a Saturday when private security personnel were conducting routine track patrols. Mihir Kumar Jha, the assistant project manager of DFCCIL, mentioned that only a police investigation could ascertain whether these clips were taken for metal theft or with malicious intent.

Following Jha’s complaint, the Sadar Sohna police station filed a first information report against unidentified suspects, invoking Section 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code on Saturday night.

Jha informed that 39 clips were removed from the up track, with an additional 15 taken from the down track. This incident followed a similar one on August 25 when 56 clips and liners disappeared from the same location. Subsequently, senior Gurugram police officers were alerted to the recurring issue.

Removing these clips poses a serious safety hazard as they play a critical role in securing the tracks to the sleepers using liners placed below. Jha emphasized that this is a major safety concern for freight train operations and that such incidents had previously been reported only within a 25 km stretch of the 1,506 km-long corridor as it passes through the Mewat region and Sohna.

He also expressed concern that some goods trains may have traversed the section of the track from which the clips were removed, potentially increasing the risk of accidents.

Inspector Santosh Kumar, station house officer of Sadar Sohna police station, said that they are attempting to identify the suspects involved in the theft.

“We are targeting those who have previously been involved in such thefts or are drug addicts for questioning. Though it appears to be a petty theft, it can potentially cause a major accident at any time. There are at least three villages in the area known for such activities. We are trying to make the village residents understand the implications,” he said.

DFCCIL officials mentioned that goods train operations on tracks constructed by the Indian Railways for double-decker racks commenced just six months ago. The corridor spans from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, passing through Noida, Faridabad, Palwal, Sohna in Gurugram, Mewat, Tauru, Dharuhera, Rewari, Rajasthan, and Gujarat before terminating at JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port) in Mumbai.

This incident occurred a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged three Indian Railways employees with culpable homicide not amounting to murder (IPC Section 304 [2]) and Section 153 (endangering the safety of persons traveling by railways by willful act or omission) of the Railways Act, among other offenses, in connection with the Balasore train tragedy in Odisha on June 2, 2023, which resulted in the loss of 296 lives and numerous injuries.