Balasore Train Accident Revealed: Shocking Lapses in Indian Railways Signalling Department Exposed

New Delhi: A recent investigation conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) into the deadly train accident in Odisha, which claimed the lives of 294 people, has revealed significant lapses at multiple levels within the Signalling and Telecom (S&T) Department of the Indian Railways. The report, submitted by the CRS to the Railway Ministry last week, highlighted the importance of addressing ignored “red flags” to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Balasore Train Accident

According to the report prepared by CRS AM Chowdhary, the rear-collision that occurred was a result of lapses in the signalling circuit alteration and execution of signalling work at the North Signal Goomty station. It also emphasized that the mishap could have been prevented if corrective actions had been taken in a timely manner.

The investigation uncovered that the wrong labelling of wires inside the level-crossing location box went undetected for an extended period, eventually leading to confusion during maintenance work. The 40-page report further pointed out that the lapses resulted in incorrect signalling to the Coromandel Express, ultimately leading to the tragic accident.

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Balasore Train Accident

Furthermore, the report highlighted a similar incident that occurred on May 16, earlier this year, at the Bahanaga Bazar railway station in the Kharagpur division of the South Eastern Railway (SER). The mishap was attributed to faulty wiring and cables, with the report noting that had appropriate measures been taken after this incident to address the issue, the accident could have been prevented.

To avoid such incidents in the future, the report called for the implementation of standard practices during signalling modification work. It recommended conducting functional tests of existing circuits undergoing alterations and ensuring that they align with completion drawings. Additionally, any alteration should be carried out with an approved circuit diagram in the presence of an officer. Separate teams should be assigned for checking and testing modified signalling circuits before restoration or re-connection. The report also stressed the importance of station masters being aware of potential faulty conditions in the Electronic Interlocking (EI) system, as indicated on the panel, and incorporating this information in the South Western Railway.

Balasore Train Accident

The release of the CRS report coincides with an ongoing investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to determine if any sabotage contributed to the Odisha train accident. The Railway Board recommended the CBI inquiry, although senior officials of the Railway Ministry have declined to comment on the CRS report, as reported by IANS.

The findings of the investigation shed light on crucial lapses in the Signalling and Telecom Department, highlighting the urgent need for rectifying systemic issues to ensure the safety of passengers and prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.