A preliminary railway probe into the Sunday (29 October) night accident in Andhra Pradesh has held the driver and the assistant driver of Rayagada Passenger train responsible for the collision.
The train reportedly passed two defective auto signals violating norms.
Atleast thirteen people died including both crew members and 50 were injured, after the passenger train overshot the signal and hit another from behind, on the Howrah-Chennai line in Andhra Pradesh, months after the horrific three-train collision in Odisha that killed nearly 300 passengers.
Signed by seven experts, the preliminary report said they carefully examined the accident site, available evidence, statements of officials concerned, data logger report and the speedometer chart.
It concluded that the Rayagada Passenger train (08504) hit the Visakhapatnam Palasa Passenger train (08532) from the rear due to the crew of the former passing two defective auto signals.
However, All-India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) has raised questions on the veracity of the preliminary report.
AILRSA maintains that train crew might have seen the signals were showing green colour, indicating the section is free of train.
"Without any valid reason the Loco pilot will not run at normal speed. So what made him run at normal speed is to be analysed," said AILRSA Secretary Balachandran.
Since morning the signals failed and signal maintenance staff on the job. It may be the reason for the green colour signal as in many cases, he said.
AILRSA also maintains that the section was converted from absolute block system to automatic block system. Station masters, loco pilots, signal maintenance staff were lacking proper adequate training in new system, it added.
"Inadequate training on a newly changed system of working is a valid reason for a detailed inquiry of all involved staff. So let us wait for an inquiry," he said.
A special passenger train going from Visakhapatnam to Palasa had stopped on tracks, between Alamanda and Kantakapalle near Kothsavatsala because of no signal, when the Vizag-Raigad Passenger train rammed it, derailing three coaches.
Indian Railways sources said the tragedy was a result of human error, adding that signaling was not noticed by loco pilot.
Waltair Divisional Railway Manager Sourabh Prasad said the collision took place at roughly 7:10 pm on Sunday.
“The Vishakhapatnam-Palasa train was waiting on the track between Alamanda and Kantakpalli railway stations of the Kothavalasa block when the collision took place,” Prasad said.
The accident caused four bogies of the second train to derail onto the adjacent track. The crash knocked out electric lines, throwing the area into pitch darkness that hampered rescue operations.
“Soon after we came to know about the incident, the local police, National Disaster Response Force teams and revenue authorities rushed to the spot to take up rescue and relief operations,” the DRM said.
Videos and photos shared by the public at the site showed multiple mangled coaches in what appeared to be pitch dark conditions.
The Railways announced it had cancelled, diverted or terminated at least 13 trains since the tracks were blocked.
According to Railway officials, both trains had 14 coaches each.
Sunday’s incident is the most serious train accident since 2 June, when 296 people died after the Coromandel Express rear-ended a parked freight train in Odisha’s Balasore district, and a third train, Yesvantpur express, then colliding with some of the coaches that had derailed onto its path.
Earlier this month on 12 October, four people were killed and at least thirty people injured after 23 coaches of the North East Express derailed near Raghunathpur station in Bihar’s Buxar.
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