While the blistering heat wave sweeping the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is causing untold miseries to the labourers, elderly and the homeless, the same is keeping employees of the South Central Railway (SCR) on tenterhooks especially in Long Welded Rails (LWR) territory.
The extreme heat conditions can bend and buckle rails into what experts call “sun kinks.” Intense heat expands the metal, curving and misaligning rails thus posing threat to the trains gliding over them. Bending of tracks due to the scorching heat is worrying the SCR.
“Trains travelling at high speed risk buckling the track. While the air temperature might be hovering around 42 degrees Celsius, temperatures on tracks can exceed 50 degrees Celsius. Extreme heat leads to expansion of rails, causing a lot of stress on the ties, ballasts and rail anchors that keep the tracks fixed to the ground. Eventually, the tracks will buckle under pressure,” explained an official.
To deal with the situation, SCR has proposed ‘Hot Weather Planning’ to avoid mishaps triggered by bending of tracks. It has taken up regular monitoring of rail tracks to avoid derailment.
Assessing the present heat wave conditions prevailing in the region, SCR general manager, Ravindra Gupta advised the principal heads of departments (PHODs) and divisional railway managers of Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Vijayawda, Guntur, Guntakal and Nanded divisions as well as engineering staff to ensure that adequate ballast is put down beneath the tracks to enable smooth train traffic.
He directed the authorities to take up hot weather patrolling during peak hours, especially from 11 am to 4 pm. Field engineers have been directed to inspect the tracks during mid afternoon hours to detect any symptoms of buckling so as to take corrective action.
When the weather changes from cool to hot, variations in the rail temperature are high. It becomes essential to take summer precautions especially in LWR territory, SCR chief public relations officer, M Umashankar Kumar told Express.
The sections are required to be inspected with a view to identify deficiencies in the form of missing fittings, ballast deficiency and consolidation etc. De-stressing is being carried out for the stretches of LWR based on their behaviour.
Umashankar Kumar said that Railways have taken sufficient measures to overcome the prevailing heat wave conditions that include dumping of sufficient quantity Ballast (stones) at required locations and recouping the shoulders and crib ballast to improve the lateral stability and resistance of track. Recoupment of missing fittings and renewal of ineffective fittings are also being done.
Hot weather patrolling is being carried out during peak hours, particularly from 11 am to 4 pm, in all the six divisions. All track works are being done braving peak summer temperatures, CPRO added.
SCR officials said that extreme heat conditions can slow down train movement due to safety concerns and daytime train services may have speed restrictions imposed.