Odisha Train Crash: In Sign Of The Cause, Railways To Secure 'Location Boxes' With Double-Lock Mechanism To Prevent Accidents

Swarajya News Staff

Jun 08, 2023, 01:39 PM | Updated 01:39 PM IST

Indian railway tracks (Kashyap Matani/Pexels)
Indian railway tracks (Kashyap Matani/Pexels)

The Railways will employ several measures to ensure safety, such as implementing double locks on 'location boxes' and discouraging staff from hiding faults and taking shortcuts, the Indian Express has reported.

Such a foolproof system aims to prevent accidents.

Currently, station relay rooms have double-lock security with keys held by the signal maintainer and station master. One key held by signal maintainers opens all location boxes.

Securing location boxes with a double-lock arrangement could be a step towards addressing the cause of the accident involving the Coromandel Express.

The train had wrongly entered a loop line at full speed despite a green signal and collided with a stationary goods train.

Reportedly, a signalling technician at Bahanaga Bazar station "looped" the location box to allow the Coromandel Express to proceed past red signals, bypassing proper procedure.

The location box is a crucial part of the 'interlocking' system as it contains connections to various components such as the point motor and signalling lights.

Positioned near tracks, it houses track-occupancy sensors and other critical elements that enable the smooth functioning of the system.

Policymakers are faced with the question of whether station masters, responsible for train operations, should be entrusted with the many keys required for multiple boxes along the tracks.

A Railway Ministry insider suggests that an electronic locking system with added security measures could eliminate the need for physical keys.

"In the age of technology," they explain, "two-step authentication is possible," making an electronic system a viable option.

As the CBI looks into the tragedy that claimed 288 lives, recent findings from Odisha reveal an instance of tampering with signalling at the station.

The station master had received a "disconnection memo" and later a "reconnection" order, in compliance with protocol, yet the technician involved allegedly manipulated the system without authorisation as the work was not officially completed.

The "disconnection memo" requires technicians to inform the station to disconnect the interlocking system before conducting signalling maintenance work, triggering alternative safety measures.

It is claimed that maintenance work was finished, explaining a recorded "reconnection," according to sources. But further investigation will determine the facts over time.

Chairman Railway Board, A K Lahoti, mentioned during a virtual meeting held on Tuesday (6 June) with general managers and divisional railway managers that maintenance staff should be discouraged from taking shortcuts.

Additionally, Lahoti conveyed that there should be no hesitation among ground-level staff to report even the tiniest of faults to their superiors, as reprimand should not be a cause for fear. An official who was present at the meeting shared these remarks with the Indian Express.

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