PNR’s excuse re train derailment hollow
The much-publicized derailment of a Philippine National Railways commuter train last April 29 was attributed by PNR officials to the pilferage of track materials—track bolts, angle bars and the like—which weakened the rail joints.
The excuse may be applicable to some previous incidents but not to this particular derailment, which was clearly due to dereliction of duty and non-adherence to safety protocols on the part of the concerned engineers—omissions that verge on criminal negligence.
The basic rule in closing a rail gap is that the closure rail should not be less than 5.5 meters long and should be duly sliced to the rails being joined using angle bars. In this particular case the rail gap was only 4 meters long, but instead of using only a one rail, two short rail segments were used. One was 3.75 meters long and the other was 0.25 meters long. Thus, instead of just two rail joints, the resulting closure had four joints.
Moreover, they did not use angle bars for the joints but just flat iron straps which were not properly bolted to the rail webs. The two short rails were not bolted to the ends of the running rails that were being joined together; nor were they bolted to each other. Thus the four joints were supported only by flat bar straps that were not bolted to the rails.
But the height of irresponsibility is the absence of bolt holes on the straps and on the rails where track bolts could be fitted in. That those joints were allowed to remain in place for some time reveals the lack of supervision by those who are trusted with the safety of passengers taking the trains.
From the foregoing it can be deduced that no track bolts were stolen since none were installed and, similarly, no angle bars were pilfered because iron straps were used in their stead. PNR should apologize to the scavengers for maligning them.
—FE R. ROCO,
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