'Lapses at multiple levels': What led to Balasore train accident on June 2?

The report by CRS has put the primary responsibility for the mishap on the signalling department

Odisha train crash

Odisha train accident

BS Web Team New Delhi

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The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) report investigating the reasons for the train accident near Balasore on June 2 found "lapses at multiple levels". One of the main reasons for it is the wrong labelling of wires inside the level-crossing location box, which led to a mix-up during maintenance work, The Indian Express (IE) reported on Tuesday.

The report has put the primary responsibility for the mishap on the signalling department. However, it also said that the station master failed to detect the "abnormal behaviour" of the signalling control system, IE report said. The CRS report was submitted to the Railway Board last week.

The CRS report said that the location box, where wires related to signalling are connected, contained wrong lettering and thus showed wrong functions. It added that in 2015, the wiring diagram, which tells the technicians how wires are to be reconnected after maintenance, was changed and approved. But the changes in the labelling were not made in the box. So, the diagram and the real labelling were different.

Then in 2018, the position of the circuit that detects the status of "point" was shifted in the box, but the labelling was not done properly. The changes were not made even on the diagram. The "point" is a motorised part that guides a train from one track to the other. 

Moreover, on the day of the accident, the CRS report said there were indications of anomalies in the system. When the station master, head of signalling at a station, gave the command to reverse the "point" from "loop line" to normal "Up line" for the Coromandel Express just 10 minutes before the accident, the indication of that change came instantly. Usually, it takes around 13-14 seconds for the status to change.

The report said, "This was the most abnormal occurrence as change of status of a 'point' was supposed to take 13-14 seconds". This has been attributed to the "false feed" the system was getting due to faulty wiring.

"This abnormal occurrence should have been noticed by the station master as it occurred during individual operation and he was aware of the normal time required for the operation of a 'point' (7 to 15 seconds) which he had mentioned suo motu in the inquiry. The station master should have brought this abnormality to the notice of the signalling staff working there and should not have taken off the 'Up Home' Signal for the train," the report said, according to IE

In the case of the Coromandel Express, there was a green signal for the main line, but the "point" remained wrongly directed to the "loop line", causing the derailment and, ultimately, the accident.

It was India's worst rail accident in at least two decades and led to the death of at least 293 people. 

First Published: Jul 04 2023 | 09:47 AM IST

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