Maha: CR's hill gangs ensure safe passage of trains at ghats

Mumbai, Jun 30 (PTI) For rock climbers, rappelling may be an adventure, but for hill gangs of the Central Railway (CR) at Bhor Ghat near here, it is a dangerous task undertaken to ensure smooth passage of trains through ghats.

According to the CR, hill gangs carry out one of the most challenging works on the zonal railway to ensure safe travel towards Pune and southern parts of the country and Nashik, northern and eastern regions.

Members of hill gangs are expert rappellers who remove loose and dangerous boulders that are likely to fall on the rail tracks and clear mud to prevent landslides along the ghats during monsoons.

'These railwaymen work in difficult conditions so that trains can pass safely through ghats,' said Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer of the CR.

According to the CR, this year alone over 650 loose boulders were identified in Bhor Ghat and Thul Ghat and were cleared using a three-wagon boulder special train during a four to five-hour mega-block each day for two months.

The crew climbs the steep hills along the tracks and marks loose boulders with red paint from January to March every year, the official said.

In the next two months before the arrival of rains, the gangs remove the marked boulders during a mega-block of four to five hours each day, he said.

'This ambitious and awe-inspiring task has been fulfilled by 10 hill gang members each in Bhor Ghat and in Thul Ghat that come under the Sahyadri range,' Sutar said.

The crew uses all necessary safety equipment such as helmets, safety shoes, harnesses, ropes, gloves, jackets, apart from binoculars and hammers, the official said.

Even during monsoon, hill gangs look for scattered loose boulders, clean the catch water drains and culverts, axe trees that might fall in rough weather and clean bridges, he said.

'The steep gradient rail line through these ghats pose a unique challenge to the CR. Moreover, during heavy rains, steep slopes start to erode and loosen boulders,' he said. PTI KK ARU ARU