The Balasore train tragedy, which involved a triple-train pile-up at Bahanaga Bazar, has resulted in the loss of 291 lives and left around 1,000 passengers injured.
CRS Identifies Lapses and Calls for Officer’s Presence
The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) for the South Eastern Circle, A M Chowdhary, has categorically highlighted “lapses at multiple levels” while determining the responsibility for the Balasore train tragedy. The CRS report points out the negligence of field and supervisory staff in the Signalling and Telecommunication wing of the Railways, holding the department accountable for the recent devastating accident.
To prevent future accidents, the CRS report recommends the presence of an officer at the accident site for any alterations in the signalling circuits. According to the CRS, all changes to signalling circuits must be made in accordance with approved circuit diagrams and in the presence of an officer.
Course Correction Measures Recommended
The CRS report recommends a series of steps to address the deficiencies identified. It suggests initiating a drive to update the completion of signalling wiring diagrams, documents, and lettering of signalling circuits at the accident site. Furthermore, the report emphasizes following standard practices for signalling modification work and conducting functional tests to ensure compliance with completion drawings before modifying existing signalling circuits.
Additionally, the report proposes deploying a separate team to check and test modified signalling circuits before restoring or reconnecting the work. It suggests issuing competency certificates to staff members who have undergone rigorous practical training for carrying out signalling modification work. Both the execution and testing of signalling modification work should be performed by staff possessing this competency certificate.
Improvements and Recommendations for Electronic Interlocking
The CRS report highlights specific measures related to Electronic Interlocking. It suggests preventing signal movement over a point if both normal and reverse indication relays are detected in a fault condition. For Electronic Interlocking, this fault condition should be registered, and the system should shut down automatically. The report also emphasizes the provision of separate logging of physical relays in the station and data logger, along with carrying point detection circuits in separate cables for each point/crossover without any intermediate termination.
The report further underlines the importance of making the station master aware of potential faulty conditions in the Electronic Interlocking system, as indicated on the panel. Long-term improvements include directly connecting signalling functions/gears to Electronic Interlocking through open fibre control, eliminating intermediate relays.
The Balasore train tragedy has prompted the CRS to address the lapses and recommend necessary measures to prevent similar accidents in the future. By implementing the suggested improvements and adhering to standard practices, the Indian Railways and South Eastern Railway can enhance track and signalling equipment safety, ensuring the well-being of passengers and preventing such devastating incidents.