Nagpur: Railway police have mounted a hunt to round up a gang of criminals involved in train robberies. In a novel modus operandi, the gang managed to stop trains using a coin to loot passengers. The gang committed robberies 10-12 times by turning the signal red and stopping the train. Around four trains were targeted by the gang with Navjivan Express being the victim most of the time. This train travels from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad via Wardha-Ballarshah route. The gang gets active at a particular spot when the train reaches there at 2 am. The looting places are generally Ballarshah, Borkhedi, Warora, Bhandak, Majri, Bhugaon, Manikgarh in pitched dark hours. Passengers are looted within minutes.
The modus operandi of these criminals not only stunned the police but has also raised serious questions over rail safety.
The ‘coin trick’:
The trick used by the robbers to manipulate train signalling system is based on pure science. The Indian Railways uses a circuit system which runs along the tracks. The insulating between each block of tracks acts as circuit breaker. If a metal object is placed in the insulation in such a way that it touches the two ends of the track, then it’ll turn the signal red as it will complete the circuit acting as a conductor. Anyone having a bit of technical knowledge can tinker with the signalling system. When the train engine passes the signal on the track, the two rails are short-circuited through wheel of the train and the relay does not get any feed from the battery. It gets de-energised, breaking the circuit connected with the signal and thereby turning the signal to red. The two rails at the joint can be short-circuited by removing the insulation and inserting a coin, a needle or any metal. The gang of robbers had used the same trick to loot trains at abovementioned places.
The gang hailed from Solapur and Ahmednagar but has become active in Nagpur division since past few years. With spread of hi-tech know-how, the number of gang members have been increasing posing a challenge to Railway authorities.