Investigation Points to Signal Interference and Electronic System Tampering
In a tragic incident that claimed the lives of 275 individuals in Odisha, the railway authorities have virtually ruled out driver error and system malfunction, pointing towards possible “signalling interference” and hinting at “sabotage” involving the electronic interlocking system. These shocking revelations have sparked concerns over the security and reliability of railway systems across the country.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who visited the accident site following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inspection, confirmed that the root cause of the mishap has been determined and called for a CBI inquiry. Speaking to reporters at the Balasore district accident site, Mr. Vaishnaw stated, “It happened due to a change made in the electronic interlocking and point machine.” The minister also took to Twitter, affirming that the incident resulted from alterations to the electronic interlocking.
While awaiting the official investigation report from the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Mr. Vaishnaw expressed confidence in identifying both the cause of the incident and the individuals responsible for it. He further emphasized that their immediate focus is on restoring the affected railway track and aiming to resume operations by Wednesday morning.
Contradicting theories and media reports, top railway officials in Delhi have indicated “signalling interference” as a potential factor behind the mishap. Member of Operation and Business Development at the Railway Board, Jaya Varma Sinha, shared preliminary findings suggesting issues with the signalling system. “There is a probability that some kind of signalling interference, whether manual, incidental, wear and tear-related, maintenance-related, or weather-related, will come out in the CRS inquiry,” Ms. Sinha explained. A comprehensive report from the Commissioner of Railway Safety is eagerly awaited.
Ms. Sinha clarified that only the Coromandel Express was involved in the accident, dismissing rumors of multiple train collisions. At the time of the incident, the Coromandel Express was traveling at a speed of approximately 128 km per hour. The goods train did not derail, but due to its cargo of iron ores, the Coromandel Express suffered the most damage. The impact caused the derailed bogies of the Coromandel Express to collide with the last two bogies of the Yashwantpur Express, which was passing through the downline at a speed of 126 km per hour.
The CRS has completed the on-site investigation and is expected to meet witnesses as part of the ongoing inquiry. Meanwhile, the death toll in the accident has been revised to 275 after a careful recounting of bodies by Odisha authorities. Explaining the revision, Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena stated, “As some bodies were counted twice, at the spot and at the hospital again, we had earlier put the death figure at 288. That number is not correct. Now, after detailed verification and a report by the Balasore district collector, the final death toll in the train tragedy has been revised to 275.”
The Odisha train accident serves as a stark reminder of the critical importance of ensuring the security and integrity of our transportation infrastructure. As investigations unfold, it is imperative that authorities take necessary steps to enhance safety measures and prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.