14 dead, human error possible cause of Andhra train collision | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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14 dead, human error possible cause of Andhra train collision

By, New Delhi
Oct 31, 2023 06:37 AM IST

A little past 7 pm on Sunday, the Visakhapatnam-Rayagada passenger train collided into the stationary Visakhapatnam-Palasa passenger train.

The train collision that led to the death of at least 14 people and injured 50 in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday evening was the result of a human error after protocols to navigate a route with a defective auto signal were bypassed, a preliminary inquiry report said.

Members of the National Disaster Response Force conduct rescue operation at the site of train crash in Vizianagaram district (AFP)
Members of the National Disaster Response Force conduct rescue operation at the site of train crash in Vizianagaram district (AFP)

A little past 7 pm on Sunday, the Visakhapatnam-Rayagada passenger train collided into the stationary Visakhapatnam-Palasa passenger train.

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Among the deceased are the loco pilot S Madhusudan Rao (53) and assistant loco pilot, S Chiranjeevi (37), of the Rayagada bound train, and a guard of the Palasa bound train. Joint collector Mayur Ashok said: “13 died at the accident site itself and one succumbed while undergoing treatment.”

The preliminary inquiry report, seen by HT, said that the Visakhapatnam-Rayagada train collided into the Visakhapatnam-Palasa train from the rear side, because of a defective signal, and the pilots of the former train failing to follow standard protocol in such cases.

The report said “...rear collision of train no. 8532 with train no.08504 occurred due to crew of train no.08504 was passed defective auto signal no. MDA/841/B2 in danger. Hence LP (loco pilot) SMS Rao, ALP (assistant loco pilot) S Chiranjeevi of train no. 08504 held responsible.”

There were three railway tracks in the section where the accident took place — the up line (from Visakhapatnam to Bhubaneswar), the down line (from Bhubaneswar to Visakhapatnam) and the middle line — where trains run in both directions. The collision took place on the middle line, railway officials said.

A senior official said a “standard rule of automatic signalling system” wasimplemented on the middle line three months previously. “On Sunday, between Kantakapalli and Alamanda stations, two automatic signals stopped working in the morning. The station master of Kantakapalli had been informing pilots about the signal failure and asked them to follow standard protocols,” the official said. These rules ask train to move at a slow speed two minutes after a signal does not turn green during the night. In the day, this wait period is one minute.

“The loco pilot of the Palasa bound train followed the standard rules. There was a prolonged failure in the signal system, and hence even the second train’s pilots were briefed . However, they thought they could proceed with normal speed, and collided into the first train from behind,” the official added. The speed of the Rayagada bound train was 60km per hour when it hit the train ahead, the official said. The bogies of the Palasa-bound train fell on a goods train on an adjacent track.

One former railway official however said this could not be put down solely to “signal overshooting.” “In the standard rule of automatic signalling system, the signals do not turn red to green immediately. It first gives a caution sign displaying yellow, then a double yellow signal implying that the loco pilot needs to slow down, and then a red for the pilot to stop the train. No loco pilot will skip three levels of signalling in any situation. Hence, this cannot be a pure case of signal overshooting,” a former railways official said.

A second official said that the operations department was also to blame. “It is the responsibility of the operations department to inform about the error in the system in writing and not just through VHF(very high frequency) signals.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    I am a principal correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. I track the aviation and railways ministry. I also write on travel trends. I cover the beats at the national level for the newspaper. Before being in Delhi, I have worked as a journalist in Mumbai as well. My hobbies include trekking and travelling.

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