A member of the inquiry committee set up by the Railway Ministry to probe into the triple-train-collision in Balasore, Odisha, has put out a dissent note, hinting at a possible anomaly in the version of events post the accident.
In a one page note, handwritten by the member — on a piece of white paper — it refutes a particular point of the preliminary report of the Railways that talks of signalling failure which led to one of passenger trains changing tracks and hitting a goods train. The note is dated June 3, a day after the accident.
A three train collision — involving two passenger trains and one goods train — led to the death of 275 people and left nearly 1,000 others injured, off Balasore, and is being dubbed as one of the worst train accidents in the recent times. The accident took place on the evening of June 2.
The note mentions that the Coromondel Express, which is said to have hit the goods train first and then the derailed bogies of it hit the passing by Yeshwantpur – Howrah Superfast express, was set for a normal course – to head for main line and not the loop line where the goods train was stationed. The signal was also green, indicating a clear way, as per the data logger — the black-box equivalent for Railways — report.
This counters the Railways’ claim that a signalling failure led to the Coromondel express entering the loop line and hitting the stationary goods train on the loop line.
Titled ‘Dissent note regarding joint finding report on derailment at BNBR yard on 02.06.2023’, it says, “I did not agree with point no-4 [of the preliminary report] which mention as the point 17A was found set for up loop line. Based on observation from data logger report the point 17 was set for normal side. It may be reverse after derailment.”
The preliminary probe report of the Railways, said a senior official, mentioned that, “Point no. 17A was found set for up loop line (in reverse condition) of BNBR station....”
Accordingly, the dissent note adds, the point of derailment [was] before the level crossing....that is before point 17A”.
The note is signed by one of the senior section engineers of the signalling department; and there is also a receipt of the same by another official. It does not however clearly mean that there was a tampering of records.
When asked for their version by businessline, Railways refused comment on the matter. Senior Railway officials claim that the signatory was one of the probe panel members and he too had signed the initial probe report.
CBI takes over probe
Meanwhile, the CBI on Tuesday said, it has registered a case of on request of the Railways Ministry and consent of the Odisha government relatingto the accident. The probe has been initiated based on the FIR filed by the Odisha police.
Officers of the investigating agency reportedly visited the accident spot, inspected the tracks, signal room and spoke to Railway officers too.
“A CBI team has reached Balasore and investigation is continuing,” a statement from the investigating agency says.