Odisha Train Accident: Signalling system snag led to disaster

Death toll revised to 275 in Balasore train accident, which had nothing to do with anti-collision mechanism Kavach; Railways aims to restore train movement by Wednesday

Odisha Train Accident

New Delhi/Bhubaneshwar: Hours after Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw claimed to have identified the cause for triple train accident in Balasore, the Railway Board said that the technical fault in signalling system led to massive disaster, which claimed life of 275 passengers on Friday evening.

Talking to media persons in New Delhi, Jaya Verma Sinha, member, railway board, on Sunday said, “According to the preliminary findings, there has been some issue with the signalling. We are still waiting for the detailed report from the Commissioner of Railway Safety. Only Coromandel Express met with an accident. The train was at a speed of around 128 km/h.”

Earlier the minister, who was supervising relief and restoration of railway tracks, had on Sunday said that the root cause of the accident has been identified. The minister said the inquiry into the train accident has been completed and rail safety commissioner will submit the report at the earliest. “The commissioner of railway safety has investigated the matter and let the investigation report come. But we have identified the cause of the incident and the people responsible for it… It happened due to a change in electronic interlocking. Right now our focus is on restoration,” the minister added.

The change that was done to electronic interlocking which led to the accident has been identified, Vaishnaw said while denying that the incident had anything to do with the anti-collision system “Kavach”.

Odisha Train Accident

Explaining the mechanism, a senior officer of Indian Railways said that electronic interlocking (EI) system is a microprocessor-based interlocking equipment to read the yard and panel inputs; process them in a fail-safe manner as per the selection table and generate the required output. This system is the alternative to the conventional Relay Interlocking system (PI & RRI).

Railway Board: Issues with signalling system main cause for accident

Railway Board on Sunday citing preliminary investigation said there was some issue with the signalling and only Coromandel Express met with an accident in Balasore that claimed the lives of 275 passengers.

Also Read: Day after Balasore train accident: 300 die, 900 still under treatment

“According to the preliminary findings, there has been some issue with the signalling. We are still waiting for the detailed report from the Commissioner of Railway Safety. Only Coromandel Express met with an accident. The train was at a speed of around 128 km/h,” said Jaya Verma Sinha, member (operation and business development), railway board.

Odisha Train Accident
Jaya Verma Sinha, Railway board member, operation & business development, at Press conference in Delhi

She said that the goods train did not get derailed since it was carrying iron ores and had maximum damage on Coromandel Express. “The goods train did not get derailed. Since the goods train was carrying iron ores, the maximum damage of the impact was on Coromandel Express. Th the reason for a huge number of deaths and injuries,” said Sinha, adding that derailed bogies of the Coromandel Express hit the last two bogies of the Yashwantpur Express.

“The derailed bogies of Coromandel Express came on the downline and hit the last two bogies of Yashwantpur Express, which was crossing at the speed of 126 km/h from downline,” said the Railway Board member, adding that the Indian Railway first focussed its attention on relief and rescue work after the accident.

Also Read: Coromandel Exp derails in Odisha’s Balasore, 50 feared dead

She said that repair work was going on in full swing at Bahanaga station, which has four lines. “It has two main lines. There was a goods train on the loop line. The driver had received the green signal at the station. Both vehicles were running at full speed,” she said.

Toll 275 and not 288: Odisha chief secretary

Odisha chief Secretary Pradeep Jena on Sunday clarified that the death toll is 275 and not 288, as it was noticed that some bodies were counted twice. “The data was checked by DM and it was found that some bodies have been counted twice, so the death toll has been revised to 275. Out of 275, 88 bodies have been identified,” said Jena.

The chief said that out of 1,175 injured, 793 persons have been discharged after treatment. “The figure will be updated around 2pm,” he added. As per the Ministry of Railways, the restoration work is going in full swing and the officials are closely monitoring the restoration process at the accident site.

A manpower of over 1000 people is engaged in the work. More than seven Poclain Machines, two Accident Relief Trains, and 3-4 Railway and Road Cranes are deployed, the Ministry stated.

He inspected the restoration work which was underway at the site where the tragic Balasore train accident took place. As per the Railway Ministry, huge manpower has been engaged in the work. The ministry said more than 7 poclain machines, two accident relief trains, three-four railway and road cranes have been deployed for the same.

How did the accident happen?

Preliminary investigations have revealed that a signal was given to Coromandel Express to enter the main line but it was taken off and the train entered the loop line and crashed into a goods train parked there.

The Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express which was coming at high speed rammed into the coaches of Coromandel Express that had scattered on the adjacent track. The accident happened around 7 pm on Friday near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar.

Rescue operations ends, restoration up in full swing

The rescue operation was wrapped up Saturday afternoon and restoration work was started. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site on Saturday and was briefed by Ashwini Vaishnaw as well as officers of the disaster management teams. He also met some of the injured in the hospital.

Speaking to reporters at the accident site, Vaishnaw said restoration work was being carried out on a war footing and tracks have already been laid on one of the main lines.

“We have mobilised all resources. I also want to say that Kavach has nothing to do with the accident. This accident occurred due to changes to the electronic interlocking system. The remarks of (West Bengal chief minister) Mamata Banerjee is not true,” Vaishnaw said.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site yesterday. We will try to complete the restoration of the track today. All the bodies have removed. Our target is to finish the restoration work by Wednesday morning so that trains can start running on this track,” Ashwini Vaishnaw said.

Odisha CM announces compensation

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik on Sunday announced a compensation of ₹5 lakhs each for the next of kin of those people from the state who died in the accident. ₹1 lakh each has been announced for those with serious injuries, the CMO said.

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