Probe report flags multiple protocol breaches for Bahanaga Bazar crash

Choudhary recommended standard practices be followed for carrying out signalling-modification work.
An aerial view of the triple train crash site in Odisha's Balasore district. (Photo | Debadatta Mallick, EPS)
An aerial view of the triple train crash site in Odisha's Balasore district. (Photo | Debadatta Mallick, EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: With lapses in signal circuit alteration attributed to the deadly Bahanaga Bazar train crash, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) has recommended a host of measures to prevent derailment of trains due to signalling and cable faults.

Improvement in signalling and maintenance system, provisioning of approved circuit and wiring diagrams and engagement of competent staff in modification works topped the chart of the recommendations made by CRS AM Chowdhary in his report to the Railway Board.

The report said station masters must be made aware of possible faulty conditions of electronic interlocking (EI) system that could be detected through indications on the panel. As a long-term measure, signalling functions/gears should be directly connected to El through optical fiber communication eliminating intermediate relays, he suggested.

“Prior to the accident at about 6.55 pm, Bahanaga station manager had ignored several unusual occurrences on the panel. The point-operation time for movement of trains between 4.21 pm to 6.35 pm was higher (37 seconds) than the normal time of 13-14 seconds. Had he informed the repeated unusual behaviour to the signalling and telecommunication (S&T) staff, they could have traced the false feed and the accident could have been avoided,” the report added.   

The train crash took place as the S&T staff had disconnected the wires connected to the loop and mainline crossover while shifting the point detection relay circuit at the north cabin on June 2 due to lack of station specific approved circuit diagram for electric lifting barrier (ELB) replacement work at level crossing (LC) - 94 at Bahanaga.

During the probe, it was found that S&T staff were provided the wiring diagram of LC-79 of Balasore as the railway had planned to reuse the pre-wired location box of ELB of LC-79 (which was closed sometime ago) for the replacement work of LC-94.

“This was a wrong step that led to wrong wiring. The wiring diagram of LC-79 could not be implemented in toto and a lot of alterations had to be done to suit the site conditions which should not have been left to the discretion of field supervisors,” the CRS pointed out.  

Choudhary recommended standard practices be followed for carrying out signalling-modification work. “Any alteration to signalling circuits should be carried out with an approved circuit diagram in presence of an officer and a separate team should be deployed for checking and testing of modified signalling circuits and functions before restoration,” his report stated.

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