Passenger and freight trains resumed operations on Monday at the site of the deadliest train disaster in decades in India. As officials pointed to failures in the signal systems as the cause of the tragedy. The crash occurred near Balasore in the eastern state of Odisha. Claiming the lives of nearly 300 people and leaving hundreds injured.
Initially, the death toll was reported as 288, but the Odisha state government revised it down to 275 after some bodies were mistakenly counted twice. Among the 1,175 injured, 382 were still receiving treatment in hospitals as of Sunday. However, concerns remain that the death toll could rise due to the severity of many patients’ conditions.
Green netting was set up along the tracks to shield the crumpled carriages from view, as trains resumed operation on repaired tracks. Meanwhile, railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was seen offering prayers as the first train crossed the site on Sunday, approximately 51 hours after the crash. However, it remains unclear if all tracks have been fully repaired, as trains were using only one side on Monday.
Investigations and Recovery
However, confusion persists regarding the exact sequence of events leading up to the crash. Railway officials mentioned a signalling error that caused the Coromandel Express. Travelling south from Kolkata to Chennai, to divert onto a side track. It collided with a freight train, causing the express from Bengaluru to Kolkata to derail.
Minister Vaishnaw stated that the crash occurred due to a “change that occurred during electronic interlocking.” Referring to a technical aspect of the signal system designed to prevent train collisions. He pledged a thorough investigation to determine the responsible parties and the specific circumstances surrounding the incident.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi visited the train disaster site and injured passengers in the hospital on Saturday. He assured that “no one responsible” would be spared from accountability. As investigations continue, efforts are underway to address the aftermath of the disaster and ensure the safe operation of train services in the region.