CRS report on Balasore train tragedy indicates ‘negligence, human error’
The Railways has decided not to go public with the report to ensure that there is no influence or interference on the CBI probe into the accident
The Commissioner of Railways Safety (CRS) submitted its report on the Balasore accident on Wednesday to the railway board and has pointed out human error as the cause of the accident, two officials familiar with the report told HT. They however, refused to give out details on the faults pointed out in the report.
“The report has clearly pointed out human error,” one of the officials said. When asked if any other involvement was indicated, the official said, “The sabotage angle, if any, will only be probed by the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation].”
The official, however, clarified that the Railways has decided not to go public with the report to ensure there is no influence or interference on the CBI probe into the accident.
Apart from a CRS probe, the CBI is also investigating the incident.
“We will not disclose the CRS report because of another ongoing independent enquiry (of CBI). This is to ensure that this report does not, in any way, influence or interfere with the other report. We will take cognisance of both the reports and make an overall evaluation of the incident and then take whatever steps necessary,” said another railway official.
The CRS report, officials said, was sent to the general manager of the South Eastern Railways (SER), the division where the accident took place, and to the chairman railway board (CRB) via an email.
“The report was shared to only these two officers and is accessible to only a handful of topmost officials in the ministry,” the official said.
A second official claimed that the staff handling the signalling system were found to be negligent.
“Negligence of the staff while following the standard operating procedures of the electronic interlocking system has been the cause of the accident. Hence, human error on the part of the staff from the signalling and telecommunications (S&T) and traffic departments have been said to be the cause of the tragic triple train crash,” he said.
Days before the CRS report was submitted, the railway board had ordered a double-locking arrangement for all its relay rooms with train controlling mechanisms, relay huts (having signalling and telecommunications equipment of level-crossings), and point and track circuit signals.
It is important to note that the Railways, after the accident, stressed safety protocols.
While the board has not given any clue on the findings, a third official said, “Safety protocol of testing the signalling system before allowing a train to pass was not followed. Moreover, the signalling staff continued to attend work even after the reconnection memo was issued.”
“Even though the reconnection memo was received by the station master, the work was not complete, for the technician responsible for it bypassed the system. In reality, the technician bypassed the system because the work was not complete and he rigged the location box to get a ‘green signal’ for the Coromandel Express,” he concluded.
Odisha’s Balasore saw one of the deadliest train accidents in India in the last three decades, in which at least 290 people have been so far been killed with over 1,100 injured.
The fatal triple-train accident took place on June 2 involving the Coromandel Express, Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express and iron ore-laden goods. The three trains collided near the Bahanaga Bazar railway station in Odisha’s Balasore district.
A total of 83 unidentified bodies are currently lying in various hospitals out of which 28 have been successfully claimed by the family members.
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