Indian Railways to Use Double Locking Arrangement on Signaling Equipment After Collision

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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"Lifeline of Indian Railways" by Smeet Chowdhury is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

ODISHA, India – Indian Railways to secure the structure that covers the lever frame and signaling equipment with double locks.

Trains in Odisha, India collided on June 2nd causing multiple fatalities and injuries. On one of Indian Railways busiest routes, the cause of the collision is believed to be a “faulty signaling system” which was flagged by an Indian Railways official last February. While the collision is still under investigation, officials believe that a signaling system glitched and allowed a Coromandel Express train to enter a Loop line instead of heading South on its original route. The Coromandel Express cars derailed after hitting a goods train and may have subsequently hit the Howrah Express cars that were travelling north, causing a multi-train car derailment.

Staff is not given as much time for maintenance on signaling systems as the “maintenance personnel needed a block or disconnection (temporary suspension of the signaling system at the station) to carry out maintenance of signaling equipment or to attend to repairs”. With the site of the collision being on one of the busiest routes, these blocks for maintenance are not always available. It is reported that “Signalling and Station Operating Staff often breach the prescribed safety protocols and informally access the sensitive installations” with the collision last Friday being “caused by such unauthorized tampering of the signaling system where the signal was given for the main line passage and the point took the train to the loop line”. 

Relay rooms, “sensitive installation that controls the signals, points, and interlocking system”, with already established double locks were inspected by two train officials who each have a key. The train officials, a Station Master and a Signal Maintainer, “were also told to ensure that SMS alert is generated on opening/closing of relay rooms”.

To combat future breaches of safety and potential collisions, Indian Railways decided to secure the goomties, a small house-like structure that covers “level frame and other fixed equipment at level-crossings and near railway stations”, with a double-lock. The Executive Director of Safety, Railway Board ordered that over the next month, to ensure safety, goomties must be “located within railway station limits” and “provided with double locks”. 

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