Signalling failure led to triple train accident at Balasore: Govt

According to the data available with railway ministry, 16,458 signal failures were reported during April-June, averaging approximately 183 incidents per day

North East Express accident

New Delhi: The triple-train accident in Odisha’s Balasore on June 2, which killed 295 passengers and grievously injured 176 others, occurred due to lapses in the signalling-circuit alteration carried out during the replacement of an electric lifting barrier at a level-crossing gate, Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw stated in parliament on Friday. He said that inquiry report of the commissioner of railway safety (CRS) pointed this out.

The Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express (12841) crashed with a stationary goods train, causing its coaches to fall on the adjacent track and collide with the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast train coming from the opposite side near Bahanaga Bazar station, killing nearly 300 people in one of the worst train accidents in India in decades.

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

A railway ministry official had earlier attributed the deadly train accident to human error. He, however, did not divulge further details owing to the ongoing CBI probe.

Findings of CRS Report

The findings of the CRS inquiry was disclosed on Friday in response to questions from Rajya Sabha members regarding the accident. In written responses, the railway minister stated the rear-collision happened due to lapses in the signalling-circuit alteration carried out in the past and during the execution of the signalling work related to the replacement of an electric lifting barrier for a level-crossing gate.

Also Read: Odisha train accident: Archana Joshi removed as SER GM

“These lapses resulted in wrong signalling to the train number 12841, wherein the up home signal indicated green aspect for run-through movement on the up main line of the station, but the crossover connecting the up main line to the up loop line (crossover 17 A/B) was set to the up loop line; the wrong signalling resulted in the train number 12841 traversing on the up loop line, and eventual rear-collision with the goods train (No. N/DDIP) standing there,” he said.

13 cases of signalling failure in five years!

The minister said that there were 13 instances of signalling failures in five years. “There have been no incidents attributed to defects in the interlocking signal system, he added. However, internal reports of the railway ministry suggest that a total of 7,216 signal failures reported across India in June alone. According to the data available, 16,458 signal failures were reported during April-June, averaging approximately 183 incidents per day.

Also Read: Odisha Train Accident: Signalling system snag led to disaster

A senior official said that signalling failures were exceptionally high across all railway zones in June. “Around 240 incidents of signal failures took place on a day,” he said, adding that overhead equipment failures also increased, with 251 incidents in June compared to 199 last year, data showed.

However, the officials said that large volume of system failures was due to increase in the number of trains and train traffic.

41 victims yet to be identified

According to the railway minister’s reply, body of as many as 41 victims of the accident are yet to be identified among the total 295 killed. Out of the deceased, 254 have been identified as of July 18. The ministry have kept the mortal remains of unidentified passengers at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, preserving DNA samples for analysis at CFSL, New Delhi.

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The report said that the railways have paid an enhanced ex-gratia payment of ₹10 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased, ₹2 lakh each to the grievously injured and ₹50,000 each to those with simple injuries. “So far, a sum of ₹29.49 crores has been paid as ex-gratia until July 16,” the minister added.

Three railway personnel taken into custody

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating the case, made its first arrests in connection with the June 2 Balasore train accident earlier this, taking three railway personnel into custody. The accused, senior section engineer (signal) Arun Kumar Mahanta, section engineer Mohammed Amir Khan, and technician Pappu Kumar, all of whom were posted in Balasore district, were charged under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 201 (destruction of evidence).

Also Read: Goods trains collide in West Bengal’s Bankura dist, hits train service

Accident triggered minor shake up in SE railway

General manager, south eastern railway (SER), Archana Joshi were among at least seven senior level officers were transferred in a shakeup triggered in the zone owing to the accident. Among those affected, five senior officials, including the Kharagpur divisional railway manager and principal chief safety officer. Anil Kumar Mishra took over as new general manager of the SER, in place of Joshi.

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