Tragedy Unveiled: The Curious Case of the Railway Collision
In the aftermath of a shocking railway accident at Odisha’s Bahanaga Bazar station, the details surrounding the catastrophe still remain shrouded in mystery. A perplexing incident involving the Coromandel Express and a stationary goods train has claimed the lives of 288 individuals, leaving over 800 injured. The railway authorities have issued a meager statement, leaving the public hungry for answers while awaiting a comprehensive report.
Picture this: a bustling train hurtling through the night, suddenly veering off its intended path to collide mercilessly with an unsuspecting goods train. How could such a catastrophic mishap occur? The initial findings suggest a signaling error as the prime suspect, but only a thorough inquiry can unveil the complete truth.
Let’s retrace our steps to the location of the crash. Bahanaga Bazar station, nestled in the heart of Odisha’s Balasore district, witnessed this calamitous event. The region falls under the Kharagpur railway division of the South Eastern Railway, where three trains converged on a fateful collision course. Two passenger trains, traveling in opposing directions, found themselves entangled in a disastrous dance with destiny, while a stationary goods train became an unwitting victim of circumstance.
The ill-fated 12841 Coromandel Express embarked on its journey from Shalimar station in Kolkata/Howrah, destined for Chennai. Having smoothly passed through Kharagpur and Balasore, its next scheduled stop would have been Bhadrak. Progressing almost flawlessly on its timetable, the train would have breezed past Bahanaga Bazar without halting at precisely 7:01 pm.
Let’s examine the intricate layout of the tracks at Bahanaga Bazar. The Up Main Line, leading toward Chennai, and the Down Main Line, directing traffic to Howrah, provided the primary pathways for the trains. Additionally, two loop lines flanked the main lines, serving as parking areas for trains, ensuring unimpeded passage for faster or more critical locomotives.
As the Coromandel Express approached its destination, it encountered a peculiar situation. The loop line designated for its passage had become an unwitting host to a goods train, also traveling in the Up direction. Naturally, the Coromandel was expected to overtake the goods train on the main line, but fate had a different course in mind.
According to the Railways’ concise accident report, the Coromandel, thundering forward at full speed without any intention of stopping at the station, veered into the loop line. The consequence was an unthinkable collision with the stationary goods train, resulting in the Coromandel’s locomotive perched precariously atop the wreckage.
How could this dreadful incident transpire? In the realm of railway operations, locomotive drivers primarily rely on signals rather than visual cues, particularly during nocturnal journeys. Though we await the official inquiry’s findings, sources within the Railways suggest that a signaling error may have played a role in this tragic misstep.
A joint inspection conducted by diligent supervisors revealed a disconcerting revelation. Initially, a green signal granted the Coromandel passage along the designated main line. However, inexplicably, the signal was subsequently deactivated. Consequently, the ill-fated train found itself on the loop line, resulting in the devastating collision with the goods train.
As we delve deeper into this enigma, attention turns to the locomotive’s driver, often referred to as the “loco pilot” within the Railways. Railway officials scrutinize both the possibilities of signaling failure and the driver’s involvement in this calamity. Nevertheless, it is essential to acknowledge that trains are colossal behemoths, propelled by immense power. The brief from the Rail
ways indicates that the Coromandel was hurtling at “full speed,” possibly around 100 km/hr. Even with emergency brakes engaged, such a massive force would require a considerable distance to come to a complete halt.
Adding further complexity to the narrative, another player enters the stage: the 12864 Sir M Visvesvaraya Terminal Bengaluru-Howrah Express. This train, traversing the adjacent Down main line in the opposite direction toward Howrah, was passing by just as the Coromandel careened into the goods train. Although most of the Bengaluru-Howrah Express had already moved beyond the accident’s epicenter, the final few coaches bore the brunt of the disaster. These unfortunate carriages either succumbed to the impact of the Coromandel’s toppling coaches or suffered the reverberations coursing through the ground and tracks.
As the dust settles at Bahanaga Bazar station, the haunting questions persist. How did a routine journey turn into a nightmare? Who bears the responsibility for this tragedy? While we yearn for a clearer picture, only time and a meticulous investigation will unveil the truth behind this perplexing and devastating railway collision.