Ramakanta Biswas

At a time when a CBI probe is on to find out the possible reason that led to the horrific triple train crash at Bahanaga Bazar in Balasore district on June 2 killing 275 people, a serious incident of a possible gap in the interlocking system involving Bengaluru-New Delhi Sampark Kranti Express has come to fore.

The incident occurred at Hosadurga road station, a double line station between Shivani and Ramagiri of Birur- Chikjajur section of Mysore division on February 8, 2023.

In a letter, Hari Shankar Verma, the principal chief operations manager of South Western Railway had mentioned that the electronic signals maintainer apparently bypassed the electronic interlocking system at the station which could lead to a collision of Sampark Kranti train with the goods train.

"Due to the alertness of the loco pilot, the train was stopped before entering the wrong line (Down line) and averted a major disaster, which would have led into a head-on collision of Sampark Kranti Express with a Down goods train approaching towards Hosadurga station at the down direction," Verma stated. 

"The incident indicates that there are serious flaws in the system, where the route of despatch gets altered after a train starts on signals with the correct appearance of route in the SMs panel, This contravenes the essence and basic principles of Inter-locking," Verma pointed out. 

Verma further stated in the letter, "When we talk high of ourselves that system is fail-safe, then how anybody can meddle with the interlocking gears without opening the Relay Room? It is astonishing to see that such occurrences are happening with investing a lot of money on signaling gear with world-class safety attached to them." 

"Though, there are clear guidelines from the Railway Board regarding the design and establishing of the Relay Rooms and the procedure for opening the Relay Rooms in order to attend failures in Stations, how come an ESM gets access to meddle with the interlocking without opening the Relay Room?," the top railway official questioned in the letter. 

"I hope you may take my note in a positive manner for improving the systems in Railways and making SWR as accident-free zone," the railway official concluded in the letter addressed to Mysore DRM and other top officials.