Odisha Tragic Triple-Train Accident: Was It Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s Criminal Negligence?


With the tragic Odisha train clash on Thursday, here’s everything you need to know about the criminal negligence involved by the Ministry

Odisha witnessed one of the deadliest rail accidents in India’s history on Friday, June 2, 2023, when three trains collided near Balasore district, killing over 250 people and injuring nearly 900. The accident involved two passenger trains – the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express – and a goods train that was carrying coal. 

The aftermath of this tragic triple-train incident has been devastating. With an official death toll of 285 and more than 900 injured, the plight of loved ones is insufferable. From mothers running around the accident site with photos of their children waiting for identification of their bodies to children crying there having nobody to look after, people are looking for a shoulder to cry on. In the middle of such tragedy, the inclusion of politics is the last thing people want. But as we know, political parties play the blame game and always blame the other one holding them accountable for the tragedy.

In the wake of such events, the public seems to be blaming the Railways Department and the Ministry too. Although, not all was in vain, as letters about rail safety were ignored by Rail Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. According to reports, in February 2023, South Western Railways’ Principal Chief Operating Manager flagged serious concerns on track & signalling safety after a major crash was narrowly prevented. His letter was ignored by the ministry. On 8th Feb, the driver of 12649 Sampark Kranti Express suddenly stopped the train near Hosadurga station after he noticed that the interlocking track was set to “down line” while the train was supposed to be on “up line”. The letter says that if the driver had not shown the presence of mind, Sampark Kranti Express would have crashed with a goods train coming from the opposite direction. The driver prevented a serious crash that could’ve caused the deaths of hundreds of people.

Most importantly, the letter pointed out that there is an urgent need to fix the system which allowed this incident to happen & to instruct the staff about this safety gap. Also, if not done immediately, there can be a severe crash in the future due to tracking interlocking failure. Now that Rail Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that “interlocking failure was the cause of the Odisha train crash”, should he not be held criminally negligent for swiftly ignoring the reports and letters of the official?

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