Investigations into the Balasore train tragedy have now confirmed that error and negligence on the part of the Signaland Telecommunication department staff had led to the tragic rail accident on June 2 in which over 290 passengers were killed. The TOI had, days after the incident, reported that the tragedy was suspected to have been caused due to negligence of S&T staff.
Commissioner of railway safety A M Chowdhary of South-Eastern zone said, “Lapses at multiple levels in the S&T department were responsible for this (Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express) accident.” Some of these lapses included wrong labelling of wires.
At 18:56 hours on June 2, at Bahanaga Bazar station of Balasore district, Odisha, Coromandel Express hit the rear of a goods train which was standing on the loopline of the station. The last two coaches of Bengaluru-Howrah Express, which were passing on the downline (toward Howrah) at the same time, were hit by the derailed coaches of Coromandel Express and capsized.
“The rear collision was due to the lapses in the ‘signalling-circuit-alteration’ carried out at Bahanaga Bazar station (north signal goomty) in the past,” read the report.
While executing signalling work (related to replacement of electric lifting barrier for level crossing gate no 94) at the railway station on June 2 evening, the S&T staff were misled by anomalies like wrong labelling of wires inside the level-crossing location box (2015), which remained undetected for years, past red-flags (2018) were ignored too, which ultimately led to mix-up during maintenance work.
“These lapses resulted in wrong signalling to the Coromandel Express, wherein the up mainline signal indicated green for the train movement, but the crossover connecting the up mainline to the up loopline was set to the up loopline; the wrong signalling resulted in Coromandel Express traversing on the up loopline, and eventual rear collision with the goods train standing there,” read the report submitted by CRS on June 29.
The CRS also found that about two weeks (May 16) before the accident, the Kharagpur division of South-Eastern Railway had a similar incident at Bankra Nayabaz station, due to wrong wiring and cable fault. “Had corrective measures been taken after this incident, to address the issue of wrong wiring, the accident at Bahanaga Bazar station would not have occurred,” the CRS wrote in his report. ToI