Hyderabad: The train smash at the Kacheguda station on November 11 seemed to have occurred due to an error by the guard on the MMTS train. This goes against the accepted theory that it was caused by MMTS driver Chandrasekhar, who succumbed to his injuries six days after the accident. Sixteen others sustained injuries and train services were disrupted for two days.
According to a report by the Commission of Railway Safety, which has been accessed exclusively by Deccan Chronicle, there were several factors that led to the accident, including mismanagement by railway officials. The report submitted by Commissioner of Railway Safety Ram Kripal and signed on November 26 states that the MMTS guard sounded the bell, even though he did not see a green light at the starter signal. The bell prompted the pilot to start the train.
The MMTS guard is supposed to sound two bells: one, after he has ascertained that all passengers have boarded the train and second when the starter signal turns green. The guard did not see the starter signal, but still sounded both bells.
Mr Sasidhar Uppuluri, member of a Rail Users Association, said it is possible the MMTS guard lied to the inspection panel.
“The report states that the weather was clear and there were no visibility issues. The starter signal is located at the end of the platform. Since the platform at Kacheguda is not curved, there is no reason why the signal wouldn’t be visible to him,” he said. In any case, when a starter signal is not visible to a guard, the guard is supposed to be given a starter/repeater indicator in the middle of such a platform. This situation did not arise at Kacheguda. The pilot on receiving the go-ahead started the train and moved 360 metres, reaching a speed of 58 kmph. He passed the starter signal at the ‘On’ position, before applying emergency brakes.
The report notes that there was mismanagement before and after the accident. The accident occurred at 10.40 am. Hyderabad division officials informed the Secunderabad division at around 10.50 am. The accident relief train reached there only at 12.50 pm, taking two hours to cover a distance of less than 8 km. “It is likely,” said Mr Subhash, “that SCR officials were unable to clear the tracks in time.
Ideally, the ART should have reached the spot in less than 30 minutes.”
Also, the Kacheguda station master was found to be at fault for his mismanagement of signal and point knobs without waiting for the prescribed amount of time. The MMTS train’s signals were processed in around 30 seconds, though a minimum of two minutes is prescribed. Another case of mismanagement was that the Hundry Express was recorded to have arrived at 10.40 in the station’ records — even though it had arrived.
The report, in its list of recommendations, did not specify if there was a problem with the starter signal’s visibility. It simply prescribed for a visibility check and installation of indicator/repeater signals where there are problems are visibility. It may be noted that the inspection report is not confidential and should be uploaded on the commission’s website. No annual or accident report has been uploaded on this website since 2015-16.
On a related note, the pilot of 57307 Kacheguda-Medchal Passenger — which was not involved in the accident — was given a defunct VHF communication set.