Odisha train crash: Vaishnaw says change in electronic interlocking system led to accident; toll revised to 275

He also said rescue work at the site ended, with the Railways aiming to restore normal services on the affected tracks in the next few days.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 04, 2023 | 5:34 PMUpdatedJun 04, 2023 | 7:01 PM

Rescue personnel work at the site of the derailed trains in Odisha on Saturday, 3 June, 2023.

Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Sunday, 4 June, that the root cause of the three-train crash in Odisha’s Balasore district and the people responsible for it had been identified.

He also said that rescue work at the site of the accident ended, with the Railways aiming to restore normal services on the affected tracks in the next few days.

As the tragedy triggered a debate over the Kavach anti-collision system, the Congress demanded the resignation of the railway minister.

It also asked when the Central government implement the much-hyped system nationwide, after testing.

Meanwhile, Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena revised the death toll of Friday’s three-way accident in the Balasore district of Odisha to 275, down from the earlier number of 288.

He said some bodies had been counted twice, leading to the higher toll being reported earlier.

Related: All about Odisha 3-train crash that killed 275

‘Nothing to do with Kavach system’

Vaishnaw maintained that the train crash had nothing to do with the Kavach system.

The change that was done to electronic interlocking which led to the accident had been identified, said Vaishnaw — who has been camping at the site of the train accident along with Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

He said the issue was of an electric point machine — a vital device for railway signalling — and electronic interlocking.

Failure of electric point machines severely affects train movement, and deficiencies at the time of installation can result in unsafe conditions.

“The setting of the point machine was changed. How and why it was done will be revealed in the probe report,” he told PTI.

“The root cause of the horrifying incident has been identified… I do not want to go into details. Let the report come out. I will just say that the root cause and the people responsible have been identified,” the railway minister said.

Meanwhile, retired loco pilot R Swaminathan opined that the system could have hardly been of any help even if it had been in place.

“Here, three trains — the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express, Yashwantpur-Howrah Express, and a goods train — were involved. The Kavach kicks in only if the trains are on the same track,” he told South First, adding, “Ifs and buts are irrelevant now. It is a fact that there is no Kavach in the entire segment.”

“The primary reason for accidents in the country can be listed in three categories: Poor maintenance of tracks, malfunctioning signals, and inadequate staffing and training for railway personnel,” Swaminathan opined.

Related: World leaders extend support to India, condole loss of life

(With PTI inputs)