Officials admitted that it was the duty of coach maintenance staff to close doors of all coaches of the EMUs before they reach the shed, and added that at least RPF personnel at the station should have noticed the woman.
The RPF personnel usually do a cursory check of the coaches before the EMUs leave for the shed/yard. Such a simple check could have prevented the incident, an operations department official said.
In the case of express trains, hospitality staff clean them while maintenance staff turn off lights, fans and close the doors of shed-bound trains. But they do not do it in the case of EMUs, said a motorman. “The guard turns off fans and lights. Only the maintenance staff or RPF personnel can notice those on board after termination of journey. The crew only bothers about rake movement and safety,” he said.
“It is not practical to close the shutters of all EMUs after the day’s operation like they do in express trains after they terminate at stations. Hence, they don’t close the shutters, not just in Tambaram where the shed is just outside the station but also in other sheds,” another official reasoned.
According to a motorman, three types of people are usually found on board even after the EMU halts: drunken men, those falling asleep and passengers who get on shed-bound EMU by mistake. In most cases, RPF personnel notice and make them leave. Even in this case, the personnel had checked the coach from the door but the woman seems to have fallen asleep on the seat, which made it difficult for the officials to spot her, said a railway spokesman.