Report blames railway staff for Sainthia accident

The accident claiming 66 lives in WB`s Sainthia station was caused by the "failure" of railway staff.

New Delhi: The accident involving two trains which claimed 66 lives in West Bengal`s Sainthia station July this year, was caused by the "failure" of railway staff, according to a preliminary inquiry report by the Commissioner of Railway Safety.

The inquiry conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Eastern Circle, has also found it "intriguing" that both the drivers of Uttarbanga Express, which had rammed into stationary Vananchal Express from the rear on July 19, ignored the stop signal and was at a higher speed (87km) per hour, much higher than allowed while approaching a station.

As a result of the accident, 66 persons were killed and 90 injured, 44 of them seriously. Loco pilot and assistant loco pilot of Uttarbanga Express and the guard of Vananchal
Express were among the dead.

The report by Safety Commissioner R P Yadav submitted to railways has concluded that the accident was due to failure of Uttarabanga Express drivers to control the speed of the train. Though there was a scheduled stoppage at Sainthia, the train was running at about 87 km per hour speed. There was a bridge before the Sainthia station for which there was a temporary speed restriction of 30 km per hour.

"Despite the scheduled stoppage and speed restriction at the bridge, the speed of Uttarbanga Express was continuously increasing, which indicates that there was no brake
application," according to the CRS report.

"The complete inaction on the part of loco pilot and assistant loco pilot simultaneoulsy in the present accident is a matter of intrigue, more so when the train has a stoppage hardly a few minutes later," the CRS observed.

The CRS also noted that the train crew had adequate route knowledge and were regularly working in the section. "All of them had adequate rest" before starting duty, the CRS said in its report.
The CRS recommended that railways should conduct in-depth probe to understand the reason for such behaviour of the engine crew with the objective to learn lesson and come up with prevention measures.

"Railways should organize adequate drill at regular intervals, especially during mid-night and early morning hours, to improve the aletnesss of train crew," it has recommended.