Pradeep Pattanayak

Even though more than 24 hours have passed since the train tragedy occurred at Korei station in Jajpur district, the question of what led to such an unseen or unheard-of incident where eight mid wagons got derailed and dashed into the waiting hall, ticket room and foot over bridge, killing three on the spot, is still haunting common people and experts alike. 

It was about 6.44 am. Like any other day, passengers were waiting for their trains at Korei station. Leaving them little time to respond, eight wagons of a goods train allegedly running at a great speed got derailed, jumped the platforms and ran into the waiting hall and ticket room. Even a wagon was seen stuck in the middle of foot over bridge. Surprisingly, 18 wagons from the front end and 26 from the rear end were on the tracks. 

What led to such a tragic incident?

According to experts, had the goods train had the centre buffer coupling system, the tragedy could have been averted. 

Earlier all the trains used to have screw coupling system. In case of a derailment, coaches or wagons would collide with each other, resulting in decoupling and detachment. Presently, while many coaches are joined with a safer centre buffer coupling system, the practice of joining wagons with screw coupling system is still in use. 

“The earlier coupling system has been improved and now air brake coupling system is being used to avoid affected coaches from climbing on one another. Efforts are on to improve the coupling system of goods train,” observed former railway administrator Dilip Samantray. 

Out of total 16,000 trains running across India, 4,000 are goods trains. For the safety of passengers, Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches with the centre buffer coupling system are being used. 

But the goods trains are yet to be modernised. The East Coast Railway informed that in the coming days the goods trains will also have the centre buffer coupling system. 

“There have been coaches so designed that they won’t climb on one another. We don’t have any direction to implement the same design in goods trains. However, we will address it gradually,” said chief public relations officer, East Coast Railway, Biswajit Sahu.  

The job of investigating the Korei train tragedy has been entrusted to the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS). The CRS will submit its report to the Railway Ministry within 10 to 12 days. Then only it will be known actually what caused the mishap.