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Odisha Train Accident: Accident happened due to mistake in signaling circuit change, Vaishnav replied in Rajya Sabha

Pankaj Prasad
Ashwini Vaishnav
Ashwini Vaishnav

Vaishnav said that till July 16, Rs 10 lakh each has been paid to the next of kin of the deceased, Rs 2 lakh each to the seriously injured and Rs 29.49 crore as ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 to each passenger for minor injuries.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav told the Rajya Sabha on Friday that a fault in 'signalling-circuit-change' led to the tragic triple train accident in Odisha's Balasore district on June 2 due to a wrong signal. 295 people lost their lives in this accident. Ashwini Vaishnav said in the Rajya Sabha that there have been 13 cases of signal failures in the Railways in the last five years, but none was due to a fault in the interlocking signal system. Railway Minister Vaishnav gave this information in written reply to the questions of various members regarding the train accident that took place in Balasore, Odisha on June 2.

Sharing details from the report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety for the first time, the Union Minister said, "Due to fault in signal circuit-change and execution of signaling work related to replacement of electric lifting barrier, the collision from behind took place." Due to these defects, wrong signal was given to Train No. 12841. in which the UP home signal at the station indicated green for run-through movement on the UP main line, but the crossover connecting the UP main line to the UP loop line (crossover 17A/B) was set to the UP loop line; As a result of wrong signalling, train No. 12841 ran on UP loop line and eventually collided with a stationary goods train (No. N/DDIP) from the rear. The minister was replying to questions by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader John Brittas and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh in the Rajya Sabha.

Let us tell you that the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express, Howrah-bound Shalimar Express and a goods train were involved in the tragic triple train accident on June 2. Vaishnav said that 295 passengers lost their lives, while 176 suffered serious injuries, 451 suffered minor injuries and 180 received first aid and went home.

The remains of 41 people could not be identified yet

In response to a separate question, he said, in the last five years, there have been 13 cases of signal failure. He informed the House that the remains of 41 people killed in the Balasore accident were yet to be identified. He said that the bodies of the unidentified passengers have been kept in the medically prescribed manner at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar and their DNA samples have been taken for analysis at CFSL, New Delhi.

The Departmental Inquiry Committee and the Commissioner of Railway Safety are the main agencies investigating the cause of the accident. Vaishnav also informed the House that till July 16, Rs 10 lakh each has been paid to the next of kin of the deceased, Rs 2 lakh each to the seriously injured and Rs 29.49 crore as ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 each to passengers with minor injuries. He said that till July 13, 258 claims have been received in various benches of Railway Claims Tribunal, out of which 51 claims have been settled.

In response to a question, the minister said, in the last five years there has been no incident due to fault in the interlocking signal system... No expert has pointed out any fault in the interlocking signal system of the Railways.

'Kavach' deployed on 1465 route kilometers

The Rajya Sabha was also informed that Kavach, an automated train protection system, has so far been deployed on 1,465 route kms and 121 locomotives (including electric multiple unit rakes) in South Central Railway. Kavach tenders have been awarded for the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah corridors (about 3,000 route km) and work is underway on these routes. He said that Indian Railways is preparing detailed project reports and detailed estimates for another 6,000 km. The amount spent so far on Kavach implementation is Rs 351.91 crore. The cost of provision of track side including station equipment of armor is approximately Rs.50 lakh per km and the cost of provision of armor equipment on engine is approximately Rs.70 lakh per engine. He added that efforts are being made to develop more vendors to enhance Kavach's capacity and scale up implementation. Vaishnav also said that Rs 1.08 lakh crore was spent on the works of the National Rail Conservation Fund (RRSK) from 2017-18 to 2021-22.