In a major development in the Odisha train accident disaster case, a senior official refuted the rumours of the loco pilot had disobeyed the red signal and was running at a much higher speed than what it was prescribed.
Speaking to the news agency ANI, Jaya Varma Sinha, a member of Operation and Business Development, Railway Board, asserted that she spoke to the drivers of the ill-fated trains and added they moved the trains after getting a green signal. She said the driver of Coromandel Express received the green signal to enter a loop line on which a goods train was stationary,
According to Sinha, the data, which she claimed to be highly sensitive, also reflected the same. "I have seen rumours being spread about overriding of signals and speed. But, these are just rumours. Both the drivers said they moved the train after getting a green signal and were moving at a speed of 128 km per hour," she said.
Accident site is a high-speed zone
Further, the senior rail official said that the route where the accident occur is a "high-speed" zone where the drivers are prescribed to run at a speed of a maximum of 130 kmph. "As per the speedometer,-- a gauge that measures and displays the instantaneous speed of a vehicle-- both the trains were running at a speed of 128 kmph," noted Sinha.
"Safety is the top priority for Railways. We are making sure that the evidence does not get tampered ad that any witness does not get affected," said Sinha. "Only one train was involved in the accident, it was the Coromandel Express. The Coromandel Express crashed with the goods train and its coaches went on top of the goods train. It was an iron ore-laden train, a heavy train, therefore the entire impact of the collision was on the train," she said.
Earlier on Saturday, preliminary investigations claimed that the Coromandel Express train involved in a horrific rail tragedy in Odisha on Friday entered the loop line and crashed into a goods train parked there instead of the main line just ahead of the Bahanagar Bazar station. The coaches of Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express capsized after crashing into the coaches of Coromandel Express that had scattered on the adjacent track.
275 have been killed
The loop lines of the Indian Railways are constructed in a station area -- in this case, the Bahanagar Bazar station -- to accommodate more trains to ease out the operations. The loop lines are generally 750 metres in length to accommodate full-length goods train with multiple engines. The two trains were carrying around 2,000 passengers. At least 275 people have been killed in the accident and nearly 1,000 were injured.
The national transporter has initiated a high-level probe into the train crash in Odisha's Balasore, which will be headed by the commissioner of railway safety, South Eastern Circle, officials said. The commissioner of railway safety works under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and investigates all such accidents. "A M Chowdhary, CRS, SE Circle, will inquire into the accident," a spokesperson of the Indian Railways said. The national transporter has also said the anti-train collision system "Kavach" was not available on the route.