New Delhi, July 3: A high-level inquiry has found "wrong signalling" to be the main reason for the Balasore train accident and flagged "lapses at multiple levels" in the signalling and telecommunication (S&T) department, but indicated the tragedy could have been averted if past red flags were reported.
The independent inquiry report submitted by the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) to the Railway Board said notwithstanding the lapses in signalling work, remedial actions could have been taken by the S&T staff if "repeated unusual behaviour" of switches connecting two parallel tracks were reported to them by the station manager of Bahanaga Bazar, the spot of the accident. Balasore Triple Train Accident: 52 Bodies of Victims Await Identification at AIIMS Bhubaneswar.
The report also suggested that the non-supply of station-specific approved circuit diagram for the works to replace the electric lifting barrier at level crossing gate 94 at Bahanaga Bazar station was a "wrong step that led to wrong wiring".
It said that a team of field supervisors modified the wiring diagram and failed to replicate it. The report also said that there was a similar incident on May 16, 2022 at Bankranayabaz station in Khargpur Division of South Eastern Railway, on account of wrong wiring and cable fault.
"Had corrective measures been taken, after this incident, to address the issue of wrong wiring the accident at BNBR would not have taken place," the report said. The accident on June 2 resulted in the deaths of 292 people and over 1000 were injured.
The CRS report has also said that the initial response to such a disaster should be faster an advised the Railways to review the system of disaster-response in the zonal railways and also the coordination between the zonal railways an various disaster-response forces like NDRF and SDRF.
The report in its conclusion pointed out that the rear-collission was due to the "lapses in the signalling-circuit-alteration" carried out at the north signal 'goomty' in the past and during the execution of the signalling work related to the replacement of electric lifting barrier for level crossing gate 94 at the station. Odisha Triple-Train Accident: Railway Denies Reports That Bahanaga Staff Is Absconding (Watch Video).
"These lapses resulted in wrong signalling to the train no. 12841....resulting in the train 12841 traversing on the UP loop line, and eventual rear collision with the goods trains standing there," it said. The CRS has recommended that a drive should be launched to update the completion signalling wiring diagrams, other documents and lettering of signaling circuits at site.
Standard practices should be followed for carrying out signalling-modification work. It has also said that any alteration to signalling circuits should be carried out with an approved circuit diagram and in the presence of an officer.
It also suggested a separate team should be deployed for checking and testing of modified signalling circuits and functions before restoration and reconnection of the work.