Wrong signal or flawed repair work? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 23, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:29 AM, November 23, 2019

Wrong signal or flawed repair work?

Two probe bodies submit reports on Sirajganj train derailment

A week after the rail accident in Sirajganj’s Ullapara upazila on November 14, the district administration and railway (west zone) in their probe reports have identified separate reasons behind the incident.

According to the district administration’s probe committee, faulty signal caused the incident while railway committee mentioned flawed repair work as the reason.

They submitted the probe reports on Thursday.

The rail link that connects all the northern and southern districts with Dhaka was interrupted as Rangpur Express, a Rangpur-bound passenger train, derailed near Ullapara Railway Station, resulting in a 30-hour halt of train connection between Dhaka and Ishwardi.

Nine compartments of the train, including its engine and power car, were derailed and three of those caught fire. At least eight people were injured and rushed to the upazila health complex.

Five probe committees were formed in this regard. After getting all the reports, the rail ministry will take steps, said Dr Faruk Ahmed, deputy commissioner (DC) of Sirajganj.

 

‘FAULTY SIGNAL’

The district administration in its probe, headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner Firoz Mahamud, said the signal was not working properly hence the train got on the wrong track.

“After visiting the spot, we saw that the train did not have clearance to get on the line it was supposed to. The committee said disparity in the line and the signal was the reason behind the accident,” said DC Faruk.

The committee also gave two recommendations -- to upgrade the system and monitor it properly.

“The system is in operation since 2003. It has to be upgraded and monitored to avoid further accidents,” the DC said.

 

‘FLAWED REPAIR WORK’

However, Railway west zone’s inquiry committee, headed by Abdullah Al Mamun, Paksey divisional transportation officer (DTO), in its report said there was no fault in the signal, rather the fault was in the repairing work done on the track.

“The repairing work on the line was neither completed nor done properly,” said DTO Mamun. “As a result, the ‘low joint’ did not hold when the train went over it at high speed. There was no fault in signal, especially for the main line,” he added.

The purpose of the joints are to hold the two ends of the rail in place and act as a bridge between rail ends. A joint is made up of two bars or more commonly called angled bars.

“The workers who repaired the line recently did not inform the station master about it. He was unaware of the situation and the digital signal okayed the train to pass through the station at its regular speed,” he added.

“Had the station master known about the repair work beforehand, he could have signaled the train to slow down, and thus avoid the incident.”

Abdul Hamid, station master of Ullapara Railway Station, echoed him.

Meanwhile, a railway official, seeking anonymity, said, “Trains now operate digitally and loco-masters cannot change lines even if they want. Everything is digitally controlled from the station. Trains change lines only when signal is open and pointing is okayed by the station.”

About the allegation of the faulty repair work, Al-Fattah Md Masudur Rahman, chief engineer of railway west zone, said, “The small repairing work is a continuous process. We cannot clearly say if there was a fault in the repair work before all the investigations finish.”

Railway officials said the train has been removed from the spot and the affected bogies and engine were sent to the workshop for repair.

The line has been repaired while trains were crossing the area carefully, they added.  

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