Odisha train crash: Back in capital, rail minister holds high-level meet

The virtual meeting which began at around 5 pm lasted a couple of hours, officials said.

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, held a high-level meeting with officials here on Tuesday.

Sources said Vaishnaw instructed Railway Board officials to draw plans to make the railway network completely tamper-proof from external elements.

The minister was also scheduled to hold a meeting with general managers (GMs) and divisional railway managers of zonal railways on the issue of safety, but it was chaired by Railway Board Chairman Anil Kumar Lahoti.

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The virtual meeting which began at around 5 pm lasted a couple of hours, officials said.

The minister was not present in the meeting, a railway spokesperson said.

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

The train accident in Balasore involving Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a goods train laden with iron ore occurred around 7 pm on Friday near the Bahanaga Bazar station.

At least 278 people were killed and more than 900 were injured in the accident.

Sources indicate that an initial probe into the accident 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, the minister claimed that it was a “criminal act” in which changes were made to the interlocking system, while 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 its probe into it.

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