The root cause of the three-train crash in Odisha's Balasore district has been identified and the Railways is aiming to restore normal services on the affected tracks by Wednesday, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
Talking to reporters at the accident site, he said the issue is of electric point machine, a vital device for railway signalling, and electronic interlocking.
The change that was made to electronic interlocking which led to the accident has been identified, Vaishnaw said while denying that the incident had anything to do with the anti-collision system "Kavach".
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The crash involving Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, which were carrying around 2,500 passengers, and a goods train occurred around 7 pm on Friday near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore. At least 288 people were dead and over 1,100 injured in the accident.
"The enquiry into the accident has been completed and as soon as the commissioner of railway safety (CRS) provides his report all the details will be known.
"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.
He also said the kin of around 300 accident victims have been provided compensation. "We met the patients and doctors at Soro Hospital. Special trains are being run from Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ranchi, Kolkata and other places so that patients can reach homes after treatment." Vaishnaw said restoration work was being carried out on a war footing and tracks have already been laid on one of the main lines.
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"We have mobilised all resources. I also want to say that Kavach has nothing to do with the accident. This accident occurred due to changes to the electronic interlocking system. The remarks of (West Bengal chief minister) Mamata Banerjee is not true," Vaishnaw said.
"The setting of the point machine was changed. How and why it was done will be revealed in the probe report," he said.
An electric point machine is a vital device for railway signalling for quick operation and locking of point switches and plays an important role in the safe running of trains. Failure of these machines severely affects train movement and deficiencies at the time of installation can result in unsafe conditions.
The preliminary probe report, a copy of which is with PTI, said the signal was given and taken off for the up main line for train number 12841 (Coromandel Express). The train entered the loop line, dashed with the goods train and derailed. In the meantime, train number 12864 (Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express) passed through the down main line and two of its coaches derailed and capsized, the report said.
Vaishnaw, who is on ground zero since Friday night, supervising rescue and relief operations as well as the railway track restoration efforts, said the railway aims to complete restoration work on tracks by Wednesday. The rescue and relief at the accident site is complete, he said.
Over 1,000 workers are working round-the-clock for early restoration. It has deployed more than seven Poclain Machines, two accident relief trains, and three to four railway and road cranes for the resumption of rail traffic. The work on repairing tracks and overhead electric lines is in progress. Earlier in the day, the railway tracks had been cleared of wrecked coaches.
In a statement, the South Eastern Railway (SER) zone said, "All 21 coaches which capsized and derailed have been grounded. Now the site is being cleared of bogie/ wheels sets and other components. Three goods wagons and locomotive grounding work is going on. Track linking and OHE work is going on parallel."
The railway is also operating special trains for transporting survivors and relatives of the deceased.