Railway Board orders double locking for signalling equipment

Railway Board orders double locking for signalling equipment

On Tuesday, the railway board issued orders to ensure greater safety for signalling equipment as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the probe into the tragic Balasore train accident. The Railway Board approved a double-locking arrangement for relay huts housing signaling and telecommunications equipment of level-crossings, point and track circuit signals in the relay rooms, which was ordered by the Railway Board. This is the latest in a series of directives issued by the government following the Balasore triple train incident, which killed more than 280 people.

The Odisha train tragedy killed more than 288 people and more than 1,100 people were injured earlier this month after two passenger trains, Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, and a stationary goods train collided following a derailment.

The order says the access to the relay room was key to the signalling interference that caused the Coromandel Express to take the loop line at Balasore and crash into a stationary freight train.

Senior officials said the task is now to make all signalling equipment tamper proof with enough evidence to indicate some kind of tampering was done with the interlocking system. This double locking will ensure that no one can access these locations in isolation, according to this order, Level crossing gate, housing signalling and telecommunications equipment in the station yard should be treated as a relay. It notes that the key of the current single lock is with the station master SM until double-locking arrangement is in place.

The relevant entries regarding issue and deposits of the key should be maintained in the same manner as for station relay room, the SM said. The proforma for handing over taking back of the key by the ASM assistant station manager on duty shall have a column specifying that the location for which key has been taken by maintenance staff has been properly closed and locked by the maintenance staff who is returning the key, the order states.

The Railway Board also said that it shall be brought to a stop by the first stop signal. A preliminary probe into the accident highlighted that some work was going on near the location of the incident, officials said. A disconnection memo to close the interlocking system and start work and a reconnection memo was received by the SM, they said.

Officials said the technician bypassed this because the work was still in progress. The Coromandel Express' location box was also said to be rigged to get the green signal for the Coromandel Express.

The order also set up disconnection-reconnection protocols for signal maintenance, repair, alteration works. The order states the reception signal or signal that controls the reception of trains into a station should not be taken off once the reconnection signal is accepted by the station manager.

It added the departure signal or signal provided to dispatch the train from the station for run-through trains should be taken off only after the first train is on berthing position. Berthing position refers to berths being all lines up at their set stations.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI, has seal the Bahanaga-Bazar railway station in Odisha to investigate the triple train accident until the investigation is complete. The central agency secured the station after obtaining the log book, relay panel and equipment, according to a railway official.

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