Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw holds high-level meeting in Delhi


New Delhi: Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who returned to Delhi from Balasore in Odisha after reviewing the rescue and restoration work following the triple train accident, is holding a series of high-level meetings with officials here on Tuesday.

After meeting senior Railway Board officials in the morning, Vaishnaw is now meeting general managers (GMs) and divisional railway managers of zonal railways.

The virtual meeting which began at around 5 pm is expected to take a couple of hours to finish, sources said. In the meeting with the Railway Board officers, the minister instructed officials to draw out plans to make the railway network completely tamper proof from external elements, they said.

On Monday, the Railway Board had issued instructions to all GMs to ensure that the protocol around the signaling systems is made tamper-proof.

The train accident in Balasore involving Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, which were carrying over 2,500 passengers, and goods train laden with iron ore occurred around 7 pm on Friday near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar.

At least 278 people were killed and more than 900 were injured in the accident Sources indicate that an initial probe into the incident has revealed not just a “signalling interference”, but also a likely human negligence whereby the door of the relay room where the signalling system is installed, had been kept open. However, this has not been confirmed by officials here.

Following the incident, while the minister claimed that it was a “criminal act” in which changes were made to the interlocking system, railway officials have termed the system “99 per cent tamper-proof and fail-proof,” thus providing no clear explanation for the tragedy.

While unanswered questions regarding technical aspects around the incident will come to light after the Commissioner of Railway Safety’s probe report, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also started probing the incident.

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