Balasore, June 04: The recent tragic train accident in Balasore, Odisha, which claimed the lives of at least 290 passengers and left numerous others injured, has been attributed to a change in electronic interlocking.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw confirmed this finding, stating that the commissioner of railway safety has conducted an investigation to identify the cause and the individuals responsible for the incident.
Exploring the Meaning of ‘Change in Electronic Interlocking’:
To comprehend the significance of this term, it is essential to understand what interlocking entails. Interlocking is a safety mechanism employed to ensure the secure and efficient operation of train movements at railway junctions, stations, and signaling points. It involves integrating signals, points (switches), and track circuits.
The Purpose and Function of Interlocking Systems:
The interlocking system’s primary purpose is to ensure that movable sections of the track, known as points, are correctly aligned and locked in the appropriate position before a train can pass over them.
Track circuits, which are electrical circuits installed on the tracks, detect train presence and determine whether a section of track is occupied or vacant. This information allows the interlocking system to control train movements, preventing unsafe scenarios like conflicting movements or two trains using the same track.
Understanding Electronic Interlocking:
Electronic interlocking is a modern form of interlocking technology that relies on software and electronic components for the control and supervision of train movements. This advanced system employs computers, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and communication networks to manage and coordinate signaling, points, and track circuits.
Implications of a ‘Change’ in Electronic Interlocking:
As suggested by the railway minister, a change in electronic interlocking could have resulted in incorrect signaling or improper routing, diverting the Coromandel Express onto the loop line or side track, where it collided with a stationary freight train. With the train reportedly traveling at a speed of over 120 km/h, the consequences were devastating. However, it is crucial to await the detailed technical inquiry report from the commissioner of railway safety to ascertain the exact cause of the accident.
The revelation of a change in electronic interlocking as the cause of the tragic train accident in Odisha underscores the significance of maintaining the integrity and proper functioning of interlocking systems.
As investigations continue, it is essential to address any lapses or issues identified to prevent similar incidents in the future. The safety and well-being of railway passengers must always remain a top priority, with continuous efforts made to enhance and maintain the efficiency of railway operations across the country.