West Bengal train accident: Signal had been defective since 5.50 am, says report

The automatic signaling system between Ranipatra Railway Station and Chattar Hat Junction in West Bengal, where a goods train hit Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express in the rear, has been defective since 5.50 in the morning, according to PTI`s railway source.

“Train No. 13174 (Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express) departed Rangapani station at 8:27 am and stopped between Ranipatra railway station and Chattar Hat due to automatic signaling failure at 5:50 am,” the source told PTI.

According to another railway official, when the automatic signaling system fails, the station master issues a written authority called TA 912, which authorizes the driver to cross all red signals in the section because of the defect.

“The station master of Ranipatra had issued TA 912 to Train No. 1374 (Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express),” the source said.

He added, “Around the same time, a goods train, GFCJ, departed Rangapani at 8:42 am and hit 13174 in the rear portion, resulting from the derailment of the guard`s coach, two parcel coaches, and a general seating coach.”

The Railway Board, in its initial statement, claimed that the goods train driver had disregarded the signal. It was estimated that, reportedly, five people had died in total. However, some local officials said it could be as high as 15.

As per reports from PTI, sources said that an investigation alone can establish whether the goods train was also given TA 912 to cross defective signals at speed or if it was the loco pilot who violated the defective signal norm.

If it is the latter, the driver was supposed to stop the train for one minute at each defective signal and move on at 10 km per hour.

The loco pilot`s body has questioned the railway`s statement that the driver violated the red signal.

Sanjay Pandhi, the working president of the Indian Railway Loco Runningmen Organisation (IRLRO), reportedly said, “It is highly objectionable to announce the dear loco pilot responsible when he is dead and a CRS inquiry is pending.”

According to Jaya Varma Sinha, Chairman and CEO of the of the Railway Board, the loco pilot of the goods train that collided into the Kanchenjunga Express passenger train in West Bengal`s Darjeeling disregarded the signal, leading to the mishap on Monday morning in which at least eight people, including the pilot, were killed, as reported by PTI.

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