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Chennai: The railways has warned that littering tracks can pose a serious threat to safety, with the potential to derail trains, especially when garbage accumulates at a rail switch — the point where a train is guided from one track to another. With express trains sometimes changing tracks at high speed, there is the possibility of plastic waste jamming a switch and sending a train hurtling off the tracks, railways officials said. A railroad switch consists of a pair of linked rails called points that taper off at the end at which they are laid between the primary track. The mechanical system allows a train to be diverted to a secondary track or vice versa. The switches are controlled automatically or moved manually to... Read more...
allow trains to change from one track to another. If the mechanism is jammed by garbage, a train could fly off the tracks. Garbage at switch points poses a major problem for railway station staff. Though switches can be operated automatically, the railways is forced to use switches manually to prevent garbage from jamming the mechanism. Railways staff are forced to remove plastic bottles from near switches before throwing a switch to guide a train onto another track. Railways officials said a Thiruvananthapuram-Chennai Express locomotive recently had to wait till the switch was cleared of garbage so the engine could be safely moved out of the station. A station officer supervised as staff worked frantically to remove the waste, holding up the locomotive by more than 20 minutes. An official said any delay on the tracks is dangerous in a system that has to work like clockwork because trains constantly arrive at and depart from stations. With most food and water sold in disposable packets, each passenger dumps an average of 9g of plastic waste at railway stations every day, according to a recent study by the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi.