In the wake of the devastating railway accident at Odisha’s Bahanaga Bazar station, questions loom as to how the tragedy unfolded, Your Content could report. The Railways’ official statement remains vague, offering few details while the death toll climbs to 288, with over 800 injured.
Based on information provided by railway sources, here’s what we currently know about the crash. However, the full picture is expected to emerge only after an official inquiry into the incident, and a more comprehensive statement from the Railways is eagerly awaited.
Location and timing of the accident:
The crash occurred just before Bahanaga Bazar station in Odisha’s Balasore district, within the Kharagpur railway division of South Eastern Railway. Three trains were involved: two passenger trains traveling in opposite directions and a stationary goods train.
The first train was the 12841 Coromandel Express, which had departed from Shalimar station in Kolkata/Howrah and was en route to Chennai. It had already passed Kharagpur and Balasore, with its next scheduled stop being Bhadrak. The train was running nearly on time and would have passed Bahanaga Bazar (without stopping) at 7.01 pm.
Layout of tracks at Bahanaga Bazar:
At Bahanaga Bazar, there are the Up Main Line (towards Chennai), the Down Main Line (towards Howrah), and two loop lines on either side. The loop lines serve the purpose of allowing a train to park on the side while keeping the main line clear for faster or more important trains.
What went wrong:
According to the Railways’ preliminary brief, the Coromandel Express, traveling on the Up Main Line, collided with a stationary goods train on the Up Loop Line. The Coromandel, not intended to stop at the station, was supposed to pass the goods train on the main line. However, instead of following that course, it entered the loop and crashed into the goods train from the rear. Images from the scene depict the Coromandel’s locomotive perched atop the goods train.
Possible causes and signaling error:
While the exact cause will be determined by the inquiry, sources suggest that signaling error might have played a role. Locomotive drivers rely heavily on signals rather than what they see on the tracks, particularly during dark conditions. According to sources, a joint inspection revealed that a green signal was initially given to the Coromandel to proceed on the designated main line but was then withdrawn. As a result, the train entered the loop line and collided with the goods train.
Investigation into driver and challenges in preventing the crash:
Railway officials are investigating both signaling errors and potential driver-related issues. However, it’s essential to note that trains are massive steel structures propelled by powerful engines. The Railways’ statement indicates that the Coromandel was traveling at “full speed,” likely around 100 km/hr (62 mph). Even with emergency brakes applied, a train of that magnitude would require several kilometers to come to a complete stop.
Involvement of a third train:
Simultaneously with the collision between the Coromandel and the goods train, the 12864 Sir M Visvesvaraya Terminal Bengaluru-Howrah Express was passing on the adjacent Down Main Line, heading towards Howrah in the opposite direction. Most of this train had already cleared the accident site, but the last few coaches were affected. They either derailed due to the impact of the Coromandel’s toppled coaches or due to shockwaves transmitted through the ground and tracks.
As investigations continue, authorities aim to piece together the sequence of events and determine the factors that led to this tragic train crash in Odisha.