A.P. train accident toll rises to 14; train services resume as track is restored

Rayagada passenger train overshot the signal which could have led to the accident, all relevant records have been seized, a full-fledged inquiry is on, says DRM

Published - October 30, 2023 07:57 pm IST

An aerial view of the train accident site where relief and rescue operations were on near Vizianagaram on Monday.

An aerial view of the train accident site where relief and rescue operations were on near Vizianagaram on Monday. | Photo Credit: ANI

The death toll in the train accident near Kantakapalli in Vizianagaram district has gone up to 14 and the number of injured to 38, according to the officials who apprised Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy of the tragedy, when he met the victims at the hospital in Vizianagaram on Monday.

Railway officials, however, put the toll at 13 and injured at 30 as of Monday evening.

The rail track was restored within a span of 20 hours, allowing for the resumption of train services. The first train to pass on the down line was a goods train, at 2:23 p.m., and the first train on the up line was Train No. 18463 Bhubaneswar-KSR Bengaluru Prashanti Express, which was admitted at 2:36 p.m.

The accident occurred when the Visakhapatnam-Rayagada passenger train (No. 08504) hit the Visakhapatnam-Palasa passenger train (No. 08532) from behind between Kantakapalli and Alamanda railway stations around 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Tough task

The removal of the mangled coaches of the trains following the collision turned a Herculean task for rescue teams, and heavy duty cranes were deployed for the purpose. The lack of power supply due to snapping of power lines, the darkness, and the accident spot being a couple of kilometres away from the main road, added to the woes of the workers engaged in the relief operations.

“The Palasa passenger train was going on the middle line and is said to have slowed down. In the meantime, the Rayagada passenger train overshot the signal and hit the Palasa train from behind. Three coaches of the Palasa train and the locomotive and two coaches of the Rayagada passenger were badly damaged in the collision. They fell off the track and capsized,” DRM Saurabh Prasad, who has been monitoring the relief and rescue operations, told The Hindu at the accident spot on Monday morning.

“The records of the data logger, speed recorder and other records have been seized. A full-fledged inquiry is being conducted to find out the exact cause of the accident,” he said.

The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) and other officials reached the spot.

“The KAVACH system is not available on both the trains,” the DRM said in response to a query.

“In the past, a train used to be given the green signal, when the train ahead of it crossed the station ahead. Now, a train is being given the green signal barely after the one ahead crosses 500 metres. The speed in the Section has also been increased from 90 km/hr to 120 km/hr, and all these factors could have played a part in the accident,” opined railway sources.

Less crowded

“As it was a Sunday, the two trains were less crowded. Had it been a weekday, there would be more employees and students, and the toll could have been much higher,” they said. Expressing doubts over the theory that the loco pilot had jumped the signal, they said it could be a fault in the signalling system.

The NDRF and A.P. SDRF teams, railway and police personnel were involved in the relief operations. The NDRF team will conduct a thorough, final search for any bodies trapped in the mangled coaches, he said.

East Coast Railway General Manager Manoj Sharma and other senior officials monitored the track restoration operations.

Twenty of the injured were undergoing treatment at Alamanda PHC, 15 at Vizianagaram Government Hospital, two at Medicover in Visakhapatnam and one at KGH in Visakhapatnam.

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