Over 20 people were killed after Utkal Express derailed near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar
The station master of Khatauli had at least twice requested the Delhi-based railway control room for a "block" to repair the tracks but was denied permission which delayed the repair work, a senior railway
official claimed today.
A "traffic block" is required when a line needs to be locked against movement of vehicles for maintenance work. Such a block is granted by the section controller, who in this case is stationed in the Delhi divisional regional manager's office. "The station master had asked the controller for the block but it was denied. This is a big negligence," the official, who did not wish to be identified, said.
The Commissioner, Railway Safety, Shailesh Kumar Pathak, who is heading the probe into the August 19 derailment of the Utkal Express, today visited the site and interacted with officials.
Official sources said Mr Pathak has learnt of the denial of permission and is believed to be considering action against the officials concerned.
The sources also said that the focus on punctuality is often the reason behind many blocks being denied routinely, which results in delays in maintenance work.
Senior officials also maintain that questions have also been raised on why repair work was being carried out on the track despite the permission being denied.
It was found during the preliminary inquiry that the fish plate and nut bolts were not fixed properly which could have led to the accident. Mr Pathak told reporters here today that he would submit his report to the railway board. He noted that "strict action" was taken by the railways after the accident. "This is the biggest action in railway history," he said.