On June 2, 2023, around 7 PM, a disastrous triple train accident occurred in the Balasore district of Odisha which has left everyone stunned and is one of the deadliest disasters in the last two decades. This incident involved Shalimar- Chennai Central Coromandel Express which connects the biggest cities on India’s east coast that were heading towards Chennai, Yesvantpur- Howrah Superfast Express that was running north from Bengaluru to Kolkata and Bengaluru, and a goods train.
The collision happened when Coromandel Express derailed and hit the goods train which was stationary on the loop line. The collision between both the trains was so massive that many coaches of the passenger train flipped, and scattered over the adjacent tracks. Another train, the Yesvantpur- Howrah Superfast Express that was coming from the opposite direction crashed into the derailed coaches of Coromandel Express. When the collision happened, both the trains were moving at a high speed. The Coromandel Express was running at a speed of 128 kmph while the other passenger train was running at a speed of 116 kmph.
This disastrous incident has left more than 275 casualties and the death count is still moving. While more than 900 passengers were left injured after this incident.
A report suggests that the crash occurred because of a mistaken signal because of which the Coromandel Express entered the side track, known as the loop line, on which a goods train was parked a few meters ahead.
Railways officials have suggested that a human error in signalling can be a reason behind the mistake because of which the coromandel express had a green signal to move on the loop line where the goods train was already present leading to the crash.
The report also suggested that the signal which turned green, because of which the Coromandel Express entered the loop line near the Bahanaga Bazar station around 7 pm was immediately withdrawn.
The four senior railway officials who inspected the site on Friday mentioned in the report that the signal was originally given for the main line to the Coromandel Express, but the train entered the loop line instead and crashed with the goods train that was already present there on the loop line.
But, what is a loop line on which the Coromandel Express accidentally entered? Loop lines are the ones that are constructed in the station area in order to accommodate more trains for providing ease in the operations. These lines are generally 750 meters long so that a goods train of full length along with multiple engines could be accommodated. Although, Indian Railways has been encouraging the loop line construction for around 1500 meters, which accounts for double the length of the loop line than is already done.
When the crash happened, the Bengaluru-Howrah Express had almost crossed the Coromandel Express but only the last two coaches of the Bengaluru-Howrah train that were left on the adjacent track were then hit when the derailed Coromandel Express rammed into it.
Five coaches have been affected the most out of which three are from the Coromandel Express and two from Bengaluru- Howrah Express. These five coaches faced maximum casualties in the crash.
Relief activities for the victims of the crash have begun and all the possible help is being provided.