Odisha train tragedy: Inquiry reveals lapses at multiple levelstext_fields
New Delhi: A detailed inquiry into the Balasore train accident in Odisha has found "wrong signalling" as the primary cause and highlighted "lapses at multiple levels" in the signalling and telecommunication department.
The report, submitted by the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) to the Railway Board, indicated that if previous warning signs had been addressed, the tragedy could have been prevented. The independent inquiry report pointed out that while there were indeed flaws in the signalling work, the S&T staff could have taken remedial action if they had been informed about the "repeated unusual behaviour" of switches connecting two parallel tracks by the station manager at Bahanaga Bazar, the accident site.
It also identified the non-supply of station-specific approved circuit diagrams for the replacement of the electric lifting barrier at the level crossing gate 94 in Bahanaga Bazar as a misstep that led to incorrect wiring. Field supervisors subsequently modified the wiring diagram but failed to replicate it accurately.
The report highlighted a similar incident that occurred on May 16, 2022, at Bankranayabaz station in the Kharagpur Division, where incorrect wiring and cable faults were the cause. It suggested that if corrective measures had been taken after this incident to address the issue of wrong wiring, the accident at BNBR could have been avoided.
The accident on June 2 resulted in the loss of 292 lives and left over 1,000 injured. In light of the findings, the CRS report emphasises the need for a faster initial response to such disasters. It recommended the Railways review the system of disaster response in the zonal railways and improve coordination with various disaster response forces like NDRF and SDRF.
The report concluded that the rear collision was a result of "lapses in the signalling-circuit-alteration" carried out in the past at the north signal 'goomty,' as well as during the execution of the signalling work related to the replacement of the electric lifting barrier. These lapses led to incorrect signalling for train no. 12841, resulting in its traversal on the UP loop line and the subsequent rear collision with the goods trains present there.
As part of its recommendations, the CRS suggested launching a drive to update the completion signalling wiring diagrams, other relevant documents, and the lettering of signalling circuits at the site. It emphasised the importance of following standard practices for signalling modification work, conducting alterations with approved circuit diagrams, and under the supervision of an officer. It also proposed the deployment of a dedicated team to check and test modified signalling circuits and functions before restoration and reconnection.