Tracks restored, Howrah-Puri Vande Bharat safely crosses Odisha train crash site
Much to everyone’s relief, the Howrah-Puri Vande Bharat Express on Monday (June 5) safely crossed the site of the June 2 accident involving three trains in Odisha’s Balasore district.
It was also a day when the Commissioner of Railway Safety began its inquiry into the June 2 accident in which at least 275 people were killed and a thousand injured, officials said.
Indian Railways resumed train movement on the affected tracks within 51 hours of the accident. pic.twitter.com/myosAUgC4H
— ANI (@ANI) June 5, 2023
Vande Bharat was not the first passenger train to cross the accident site, though. Two other passenger trains — the Howrah-Puri Superfast Express and the Odisha Sampark Kranti Express — also crossed the up and down lines, respectively, early on Monday.
All eyes were on the Howrah-Puri Vande Bharat Express because it is a semi-high-speed train. It safely crossed the Bahanaga Bazar Station around 9.30 am on Monday, officials said, adding that the tracks are now fit for operating trains along both the up and down lines.
Trains are passing the accident site at a slow speed though.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was present at the accident site and waved to the drivers when the semi-high-speed train passed through. The restoration work of both the up line and down line tracks was completed on Sunday night, Vaishnaw said.
The Commissioner of Railway Safety (SE Circle) Shailesh Kumar Pathak launched the inquiry into the accident and visited the site at Bahanaga Station Bazar Station on Monday.
He also inspected the control room and the signal room, spoke to the station manager, and also saw the interlinking system that reportedly led the Coromandel Express to enter the loop line, leading to a devastating crash on June 2.
“We have just started the inquiry. It will take time. The exact cause of the accident will be ascertained after the inquiry is over,” Pathak told reporters at the accident site.
A coal-laden goods train from Vizag port to Rourkela Steel Plant was the first to run on the same track around 10.40 pm on Sunday night.
Around 7 pm on June 2, the Coromandel Express crashed into a stationary goods train, derailing most of its coaches. A few coaches toppled over on the last few coaches of the SMVT-Howrah Yesvantpur Express, which was passing by at the same time.
Investigators are looking into possible human error, signal failure, and other likely causes behind the triple-train crash.
(With agency inputs)