Kanchanjanga Express Collision: A Comprehensive Analysis on the Tragic Accident

Vinod Shah Posted on: 2024-06-17 17:17:00 Viewer: 335 Comments: 0 Country: India City: New Delhi

Kanchanjanga Express Collision: A Comprehensive Analysis on the Tragic Accident

On June 17, 2024, a tragic collision involving the Kanchanjanga Express and a goods train shook the foundations of railway safety in India. The accident, which occurred at 8:30 AM, followed a failure in the automatic signaling system that began at 5:30 AM. This article delves into the incident's numerous facets, investigating the causes, implications, and future preventative measures.

Signal Failures: A Recurring Issue

Incidents of Signal Failures in Recent Months: Signal failures in the vicinity of the accident site have been frequent, raising serious concerns about the reliability of the system. These failures disrupt the smooth operation of trains, leading to delays and, in extreme cases, accidents.

Average Time for Rectification: Typically, the time taken to rectify these signal failures varies. While minor issues might be resolved within a few hours, more complex problems can take up to a day. This variability impacts the overall safety and efficiency of train operations.

Current SOP for Automatic Signal Failures: Under the current Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), a failed automatic signal is treated as a red signal. During the day, the train must stop for a minute before proceeding at a restricted speed, ensuring it can halt short of any obstruction. At night, this stop duration increases to two minutes.

Role of Loco Pilots in Signal Failure Scenarios

Loco pilots and their assistants are required to call out the aspect of signals loudly. This practice ensures both crew members are aware of the signal status, enhancing safety. However, the efficacy of this procedure depends heavily on the vigilance and cooperation of the crew.

Investigating the Tail Lamp Visibility

Functionality and Visibility of the Tail Lamp: The tail lamp (flasher light) on the rear-most coach is crucial for visibility, especially in adverse conditions. In this collision, it is essential to determine whether the tail lamp was functioning and visible from an adequate distance. The lack of braking before the collision suggests that the tail lamp might not have been visible, or other factors might have impeded the loco pilot's response.

Role of ICF Coaches in the Disaster

Absence of Anti-Climbing Features: The train comprised Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches, which lack anti-climbing features. This design flaw contributed to the severity of the collision. In contrast, Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches, with their advanced safety features, could have significantly reduced casualties.

Disuse of the Anti-Collision System

The North East Frontier Railway was the first to be equipped with an indigenous anti-collision system. Unfortunately, this system fell into disuse, and the reasons behind this neglect need thorough investigation. Reinstating and maintaining such systems could prevent future accidents.

Mixed Traffic on Indian Railways

Indian Railways operates both passenger and freight trains on the same tracks, leading to potential safety hazards. Segregating these traffic types by running them on dedicated corridors could mitigate risks and enhance overall safety.

Training and Preparedness of Locomotive Drivers

Evaluating Training Programs: The training programs for locomotive drivers, especially those operating in automatic signaling territories, must be scrutinized for adequacy. Ensuring comprehensive and up-to-date training can improve response times and decision-making in critical situations.

Role of Loco Inspectors: Loco inspectors play a vital role in supervising and evaluating train crews. Regular inspections and evaluations, especially on footplate rides with goods train drivers, ensure that standards are maintained, and any issues are promptly addressed.

Crew Rest and Readiness

Rest Adequacy for Goods Train Crew: Adequate rest is crucial for the alertness and performance of train crews. Investigating the rest periods provided to the goods train crew involved in this collision can reveal if fatigue played a role in the accident.

Alcohol and Breathalyser Tests: Routine alcohol testing through breathalysers ensures that train crews are sober and fit for duty. The efficacy of these tests must be verified, and any lapses identified and rectified.

Mechanical and Operational Checks

Brake Power Check: A thorough brake power check on the goods train in question is necessary to determine if brake failure contributed to the collision. Regular maintenance and checks are crucial for the safe operation of trains.

Driver's Compliance with Halt Protocol: Investigating whether the driver observed the mandated halt at the defective signal is essential. Non-compliance with this protocol could indicate either negligence or a more systemic issue within the signaling process.

Past Record and Training of Goods Train Crew

Reviewing Past Signal Passing Cases: Examining incidents of trains passing signals at danger over the past six months can identify patterns and underlying causes. This analysis is crucial for developing strategies to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Crew's Training and Medical Examinations: The training records and medical examinations of the goods train crew must be reviewed to ensure they met all required standards. Proper training and health checks are vital for maintaining high safety standards.

Family Background and Mental Health: The mental health and family background of the deceased crew members can provide insights into their state of mind and potential stressors. Addressing mental health concerns is as important as physical health in ensuring crew readiness.

Patterns in Recent Railway Accidents

Identifying Trends in Railway Accidents: A comprehensive review of railway accidents over the past year can highlight recurring issues and patterns. Understanding these trends is essential for implementing effective safety measures.

Delays in Executing KAVACH System

Challenges in Implementing KAVACH: The KAVACH system, designed to enhance railway safety, has faced implementation delays. Investigating the reasons behind these delays can help expedite the process and improve safety.

Addressing Brake System Issues

Resolution of Bogie-Mounted Brake System Problems: Ensuring that the issues identified with the bogie-mounted brake system of goods trains have been resolved is critical. Ongoing vigilance and maintenance are necessary to prevent brake-related accidents.

Reviewing IRMS Promotion and Recruitment

Evaluation of IRMS Scheme: The Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS) scheme of promotion and recruitment must be reviewed to ensure it meets the evolving needs of the railway system. Effective management practices are key to maintaining high safety and operational standards.

Comprehensive CRS Enquiry

The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) enquiry must delve deeply into all aspects of the collision. A thorough and transparent investigation is essential for identifying the root causes and preventing future incidents.

The Kanchanjanga Express collision on June 17, 2024, underscores the critical need for robust safety measures and thorough investigations. From signal failures and the functionality of tail lamps to the adequacy of crew training and rest, every aspect must be meticulously examined. Implementing dedicated corridors for freight and passenger trains, reinstating anti-collision systems, and ensuring comprehensive training and mental health support for crews are vital steps forward. The lessons learned from this tragic incident must drive systemic changes to enhance the safety and reliability of Indian Railways.


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