The railway ministry may have set a new mission to introduce bullet trains in the country, but track conditions and over-speeding trains still pose a threat to passenger safety. Preliminary investigations show, the Coromandel Express that derailed on the busy Howrah-Chennai trunk route at Jajpur Road, 65 km from Bhubaneswar on Friday, was due to possible mechanical and track failures.
According to the official figures given on Saturday, 12 people were killed in the accident.
Additional Divisional Railway Manager R.L. Gupta who is supervising the rescue and re-railment work at the accident site told Hindustan Times, “The reasons for the Coromondel derailment cannot be established in a hurry. Only after a detailed inquiry, the cause can be ascertained.”
Engineers working at the accident site told HT that the superfast train was pulverised due to three plausible reasons. First, Coromandel does not stop at Jajpur Road station and the accident took place after the train passed the station through a loop.
A senior railway engineer told HT, “After travelling in the loop, the train was about to join the main track after the station through the crossover points. The crossover points work in tandem with the signalling system. The crossover point was not set correctly due to which the train was derailed.”
The second reason, according to the sources, could be “engine seizure” due to excessive over-speeding and sudden application of brakes.
The driver of the train P. Jani, according to sources, did not have the requisite experience to run a superfast train. Jani had only 15 months of experience and he was over-speeding at more than 120-130 km. Weak track conditions could also be responsible for the derailment, sources said.
Amitabh Nandi, CPM MP from West Bengal who visited the accident site on Saturday said, “Old railway tracks and coaches are not being replaced. The railway authorities are not discharging their responsibilities properly.”
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union Minister of State for Railway R. Velu were among the VVIPs who visited the accident site on Saturday.