Signal error likely to cause terrible train crash in India
A signal error is thought to be the cause of a train crash that has killed at least 288 people in India, it has been reported.
The passenger Coromandel Express rammed into a goods train in Balasore city in Odisha state on Friday causing between 10 and 12 carriages to derail. A third train, the Bangalore -Superfast Express, was also involved in the aftermath and two of its carriages derailed.
An early investigation by senior railway officials has said a mistaken signal was the likely cause, local media reports said on Saturday.
The Hindu Times also reported that the line was “partially corroded” where the impact happened.
The news website claims the investigation report said the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express entered the “loop line” after a “mistaken” signal, which was withdrawn straight away.
A loop line diverts a train from the main line and brings it back at a further distance, often to allow stoppages or overtaking manoeuvres.
The report was filed on Saturday by senior railway subordinates JN Subudhi, RK Banerjee, RK Panjira and AK Mohantu.
This report added: “After careful observation, (we) came to the conclusion that the signal was given and taken off for the main line for 12841 (Coromandel Express), but this train entered the loop line and dashed with the goods train which was on the loop line and derailed.
“In the meantime, Bangalore -Superfast Express (12864) passed through another line and two coaches of the train derailed and capsized.”
It was stated that the Coromandel Express entered the loop line at 74mph.
The investigation followed ministers calling for a high-level probe into the cause of the crash, which is the most serious in India since 1995.
Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union railways minister, said, “We will ensure such an accident does not happen in future.”
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said he was “distressed” by the incident and that “all possible assistance” is being given to those affected.
Video footage from Friday showed rescuers climbing up one of the mangled trains to find survivors, while passengers called for help and sobbed next to the wreckage.
“This is very, very tragic. I have never seen anything like this in my career,” Sudhanshu Sarangi, director of Odisha state’s fire and emergency department said.
Eyewitnesses of the scene have also shared their accounts.
“The dead bodies were lying all over the tracks, people were screaming for help. This was my worst nightmare and the images will haunt me for life,” Santosh Jain, a passenger on one of the affected trains, told The Indian Express.
“The local people really went out on a limb to help us. They not only helped in pulling out people but retrieved our luggage and got us water,” Rupam Banerjee, a survivor, told Press Trust of India.