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Those found guilty won't be spared: PM Modi on Odisha train accident

The commissioner of railway safety works under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and investigates all such accidents
Last Updated : 03 June 2023, 17:43 IST

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In what has turned out to be one of the worst train disasters in the country in recent years, the toll in the Balasore train mishap climbed to 288, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site on Saturday to take stock of the relief work and meet the injured at the hospital. More than 800 people have sustained injuries in the accident.

"Stringent action will be taken against those found guilty in the train accident incident. No one will be spared," Modi said upon meeting the injured at the hospital.

Preliminary investigations point towards a three-train collision at Bahanaga Bazar Station in Balasore district - 171 km from capital Bhubaneswar- around 7 pm Friday evening when the Coromandel Express entered the wrong track- the loop line where a freight train was parked.

The speeding train travelling at 128 km/hr- which should have taken the mainline towards Chennai- rammed into a static goods train. All 21 coaches of the Coromandel Express were derailed due to a collision.

At least three coaches of this passenger train jumped onto a parallel track resulting in another collision when Yeshwantpur-Howrah Superfast Express entered the Bahanaga Bazar station just minutes after the first accident.

Both Coromandel and Yeshwantpur-Howrah Superfast were running at full speed as they did not have a designated halt at Bahanaga Bazar Station.

The investigations have revealed that a signal was given to Coromandel Express to enter the main line but the track diversion point was not supported by the mainline instead it was towards loopline. Due to this, the speeding train entered the loopline and hit the goods train parked there. Technically, when a green signal was given to the train to move on mainline, or whichever the line, track diversion point should move accordingly, said the official in the railways.

In this case, the railway control room shows, a green signal was given for Coromandel on the mainline and track diversion point also showing towards mainline. However, on the track, where the point is there, it was towards the loop line. Now the railways is investigating how this technical fault had happened and any foreign particles kept there to prevent track diversion towards the mainline, said the official.

While Coromandel Express was at a speed of 128 kmph, Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express was running at a speed of 116 kmph when tragedy occured.

The loop lines of the Indian Railways are constructed in a station area to accommodate the passage of trains to ease out the traffic. The loop lines are generally 750 metres in length to accommodate full-length goods trains with multiple engines.

The engine drivers and guards of two passenger trains were injured in the accident and are being treated in different hospitals. The engine driver and the guard of the goods trains, however, escaped unhurt, the official added.

Coromandel Express train had 1257 reserved passengers on board while Yeshwantpur Express had 1039 reserved passengers, said the railways in a statement.

While a thorough probe is underway, none of the authorities has so far talked about any possibility of sabotage.

"Two passenger trains had an active involvement in the accident while the third train, a goods train, which was parked at the site, also got (involved) in the accident," Amitabh Sharma, executive director, and also spokesperson of Indian Railways.

The national transporter has initiated a high-level probe into the train crash, which will be headed by the commissioner of railway safety, South Eastern Circle A M Chowdhary, officials said.

The commissioner of railway safety works under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and investigates all such accidents.

The national transporter has also said the anti-train collision system "Kavach" was not available on the route.

While sources had earlier said a signalling failure could be the reason behind the crash, railway officials said it is not yet clear if Coromandel Express entered the loop line and hit the stationary goods train or it first derailed and then hit the parked train after entering the loop line.

Due to the accident and damage to the tracks, so far, a total of 58 trains are cancelled, 81 were diverted and 10 were terminated. Work is underway in full swing, & restoration will be done soon; first, we will complete the restoration of the downline: Amitabh Sharma, Spokesperson, Ministry of Railways on Balasore train mishap.

The railways announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of those who died, Rs two lakh to the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for passengers with simple injury. Then PM
Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of each deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

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Published 03 June 2023, 12:59 IST

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