Railway Board Calls for CBI Probe into Mishap

BHUBANESWAR/Delhi: The railways on Sunday virtually ruled out driver error and system malfunction, indicating possible "signalling interference" and hinting at "sabotage" and tampering of the electronic interlocking system behind the triple train accident that claimed 275 lives in Odisha.

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspected the accident site, railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the root cause behind the tragic train mishap has been ascertained and sought a CBI inquiry into the accident.

"It happened due to a change made in the electronic interlocking and point machine," Mr Vaishnaw told reporters at the site of Friday's accident in Balasore district.

Mr Vaishnaw further stated: "The commissioner of railway safety (CRS) has investigated the matter and let the investigation report come, but we have identified the cause of the incident and the people responsible for it... It happened due to a change in electronic interlocking."

"We've identified the root cause of the train accident and the people responsible for it. The accident happened due to a change in electronic interlocking. Right now our focus is on restoration," Mr Vaishnaw tweeted.

"Our target is to finish the restoration work by Wednesday morning so that trains can start running on this track," Mr Vaishnaw said.

The railway minister further stated that the mishap has nothing to do with the anti-collision system Kavach. "The reason is not what (West Bengal CM) Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday. This incident happened due to a change in electronic interlocking," Mr Vaishnaw added.

Top railway officials in Delhi indicated "signalling interference".

Dispelling media reports and theories, the railway board made some startling revelations on Sunday regarding the involvement of multiple trains in the Odisha train mishap. Member of operation and business development at the railway board Jaya Varma Sinha said that the preliminary findings suggest that there have been some issues with the signalling.

"There is a probability that some kind of signalling interference, whether it was manual or incidental, wear and tear-related, maintenance-related or weather-related, will come out in the CRS inquiry," Ms Sinha said, adding that a detailed report from the commissioner of railway safety is awaited.

"We need to understand that only the Coromandel Express met with the accident. The false information floating around is that multiple trains collided. At the time of the accident, the Coromandel Express train was then travelling at a speed of around 128 km per hour," said Ms Sinha.

According to Ms Sinha, the goods train did not get derailed. "Since the goods train was carrying iron ores, the maximum damage from the impact was on the Coromandel Express. This is the reason behind a huge number of deaths and injuries," said Ms Sinha.

According to Mr Sinha, the derailed bogies of the Coromandel Express scattered on the downline and hit the last two bogies of the Yashwantpur Express, which was crossing at a speed of 126 km per hour from the downline.

Meanwhile, the CRS has completed the investigation at the site and is expected to meet witnesses as part of his inquiry on Monday and Tuesday.

In another related development, Odisha revised the death toll in the accident to 275. About the revision of the death toll, Odisha chief secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena clarified that the official death toll in the tragic Balasore train accident has been revised to 275 after recounting the bodies.

"As some bodies were counted twice, at the spot and at the hospital again, we had earlier put the death figure at 288. That number is not correct. Now, after detailed verification and a report by the Balasore district collector, the final death toll in the train tragedy has been revised to 275," said Mr Jena.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
Next Story