Deadly accident in India 6/2/23

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jis

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A horrific accident involving three trains happened at around 7pm IST of June 2, 23 killing over 120people and injuring possibly over 800. Most of the casualties appear to be travelers in one of the trains involved.

The location was at Bahanaga Bazar station between Balasore and Bhadrak on the East Coast Railway on the main Kolkata Chennai route. The trains involved were, a freight train, the 12841 Shalimar (Kolkata) Chennai Central Coromandel Express and the 12864 Yeswantpur (Bengaluru) - Howrah (Kolkata) Superfast Express. There is much confusion about the exact sequence of events and exactly what happened. One thing is clear that the Coromandel Express derailed fouling the parallel track on which the Howrah Express came by from the opposite direction and hit the derailed cars that were fouling.

Here is a BBC article on it ...

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-65793257
I have seen a photo which shows a WAP-7 Class electric loco sans its wheels sitting on top of a freight wagon. I have no idea which train that one came from. But from the photos I have seen, my speculation is that the Coromandel Express rear ended a stationary freight train derailing most of its cars, and spilling some on the adjacent track. Soon after that the Howrah Express came by and plowed into those cars and derailed 3 or 4 of its cars. All speculation mind you.
 
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According to travelers on board the 12864 Yaswantpur - Howrah Superfast, only the last four cars of that train were affected. They detached those and the rest of the train was released to proceed to Howrah at around 1am IST of 3 June, '23. So most of the injuries and deaths were on 12841.

According to a post from DRM Kharagpur Most of the damage was to 12841 Coromandel. 10 cars capsized, and only rear two cars of the 22 car train remained on rails. 10 cars derailed but remained upright. The locomotive remained upright but on top of a freight wagon as seen in a photo.

On 12864 rearmost two cars derailed and capsized. The next car was damaged but on rail, and the rest of the train was undamaged, and was released to proceed to destination after inspection.
 
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A horrific accident involving three trains happened at around 7pm IST of June 2, 23 killing over 120people and injuring possibly over 800. Most of the casualties appear to be travelers in one of the trains involved.

The location was at Bahanaga Bazar station between Balasore and Bhadrak on the East Coast Railway on the main Kolkata Chennai route. The trains involved were, a freight train, the 12841 Shalimar (Kolkata) Chennai Central Coromandel Express and the 12864 Yeswantpur (Bengaluru) - Howrah (Kolkata) Superfast Express. There is much confusion about the exact sequence of events and exactly what happened. One thing is clear that the Coromandel Express derailed fouling the parallel track on which the Howrah Express came by from the opposite direction and hit the derailed cars that were fouling.

Here is a BBC article on it ...

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-65793257
I have seen a photo which shows a WAP-7 Class electric loco sans its wheels sitting on top of a freight wagon. I have no idea which train that one came from. But from the photos I have seen, my speculation is that the Coromandel Express rear ended a stationary freight train derailing most of its cars, and spilling some on the adjacent track. Soon after that the Howrah Express came by and plowed into those cars and derailed 3 or 4 of its cars. All speculation mind you.
😱🥺😥
 
What you describe sounds similar to the Harrow and Wealdstone crash in England in 1952 where an express rear ended a stationary train and the wreckage then hit by a third train. In that case the accident was caused by the driver of the express passing 2 signals at danger. Thick fog and the fact that the train ahead would have normally been on a different track were factors.

The Harrow and Wealdstone crash was a major factor in the adoption of the AWS (automatic warning system) in the UK which requires the driver to acknowledge any signal indication other than clear and applies brakes if not promptly acknowledged.

Of course we don't know the reason for the initial crash in the case of the accident in India so it may not be a SPAD as happened in the UK accident.
 
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A question for those that know.

We are considering visiting India a couple of times in the next year or three and would use rail extensively. In the British press there are suggestions that this is the worst of frequent rail accidents in India.

Is this due to either:

a huge rail network with enormous amount of train movements to cater for a massive population so therefore if there are many rail accidents as a percentage against the head of population it is just average compared to other countries?

or is there another reason(s)

I understand this is a hard question to ask and answer, but for obvious reasons we are very interested.

Thanks
 
What you describe sounds similar to the Harrow and Wealdstone crash in England in 1952 where an express rear ended a stationary train and the wreckage then hit by a third train. In that case the accident was caused by the driver of the express passing 2 signals at danger. Thick fog and the fact that the train ahead would have normally been on a different track were factors.
This one will take a bit to reconstruct since two slightly different possible sequence of events lead to two very different conclusion.

At present, though yet to be fully established with testing, there is no evidence of SPAD. Indeed the derailment appears to have began near the Outer Signal which was Clear, and in that area there apparently was a derailment of a few rear cars of the Howrah Express on the parallel track. One of the photos taken from far away seems to show two cars in the ditch on the side away from the opposing track. There is at least one newspaper suggesting that there was a routing error sending the train to the loop where the freight was standing. This of course also could have been caused by a failure of a switch (point). But we will have to wait to see.

At present there are two theories:

1. The last couple of cars of the Howrah express derail and fouled the side of the other track. When Coromandel passed it was deflected sufficiently to start a chain of events leading to derailment.

2. Coromandel started derailing for unknown (at present) reason, while the Howrah Express was passing by. In the process of derailing it got the last few cars of the Howrah Express, and then piled up near the platform of the station.

Unfortunately the many photos in daylight that have come out, none show the spot where the derailment started which is at some distance from where the final pileup ended up to be.

Here is a typical drone photo:

There was a full freight train attached to the freight wagon atop which the loco sits, which has been removed. The Howrah Express had already passed this area derailing its tail near the outer signal beyond the view seen here. The portion of that train which did not derail, which is basically most of the train, left for Howrah at 1am IST after inspection and safety checks.

Here is the normal train consist formation of the Coromandel Express:

1685800208748.png

It was traveling to the left. Everything upto S5 (car 8) were off the tracks and severely damaged, Cars 1-5 were essentially destroyed. Cars 9 (PC) through 20 derailed but stayed upright except car 14 (B5) which flipped on its side. Cars 21 through 23 did not derail. The typical photos from drones show the Loco and upto car 14 (B5).

The reason for high casualty is that the cars that were damaged or destroyed were unreserved Second Class and non-AC Sleeper cars, which are higher density occupancy cars. The cars that derailed but stayed upright and even those that did not, remained relatively undamaged, are reserved AC Sleepers. The only revenue car that did not derail was the AC First Class, which is the lowest density occupancy car in the train.

Legend for the consist chart:

L - Loco
SLR - Luggage, Second Class, Guard
GS - General Second Class
Sx - Non Air Conditioned 3 Tier Sleeper
PC - Pantry Car ( the photos seem not to show this so it may have been absent in the consist this day)
Bx - Air Conditioned 3 Tier Sleeper
Ax - Air Conditioned 2 Tier Sleeper
Hx - Air Conditioned First Class
EOG - Generator Car, Guard, Luggage
HCP - High Capacity Parcel Van

That VSKP at the end with that strange symbol says that the train reverses direction of travel a VSKP (Vishakhapatnam).

As an aside, both the Engineers of the Coromandel have survived, though with serious injuries. They are said to be out of any immediate danger and are recovering in ICUs in area hospitals (reported to be at AIIMS Bhubaneshwar, one of the best facilities in the state of Odisha). So we will know quite a bit more once they are able to tell the investigators what happened. Already I am sure the investigators know more than we do from the Engineers of the Howrah Express, who were physically far removed from the mayhem through the accident.

OK, now you know pretty much everything I have been able to dig up so far.
 
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A question for those that know.

We are considering visiting India a couple of times in the next year or three and would use rail extensively. In the British press there are suggestions that this is the worst of frequent rail accidents in India.

Is this due to either:

a huge rail network with enormous amount of train movements to cater for a massive population so therefore if there are many rail accidents as a percentage against the head of population it is just average compared to other countries?

or is there another reason(s)

I understand this is a hard question to ask and answer, but for obvious reasons we are very interested.

Thanks
I m sure our friend jis has good answers to your questions Jamie!

Hope Summer is being kind to the Continent, we're off to a Hot and Humid start here in the Lone Star State! Hi to Rosie!!!🥰
 
I m sure our friend jis has good answers to your questions Jamie!

Hope Summer is being kind to the Continent, we're off to a Hot and Humid start here in the Lone Star State! Hi to Rosie!!!🥰
It is estimated that about 20,000 to 25,000 people die in rail related incidents every year in India. Most are trespassers or those that fall off overcrowded trains. Mumbai Suburban is apparently a large contributor to the latter account. Actual accident (collision and derailment) related deaths are well under thousand each year, indeed most years it is well below 100.

Just remember that the 25,000 is relative to 10 billion riders per year, and 60% of them are not train riders, but people hanging out on railroad tracks. However, if that scares you enough not to ride you should avoid doing so. Don't do things that make you uncomfortable is at least my motto.

Personally I do not have any hesitation riding trains in India just like I don't have any hesitation riding cars in the US. Indeed riding cars in India is far more dangerous than riding trains when it comes to that. So if that is an issue, better to avoid India altogether I'd say ;)
 
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There is a very interesting thread that I am reading (in Bengali) started by someone who allegedly has access to the log of events from the signal control center of Bahanaga Bazar Station. If it is legitimate and not something cooked up by someone, then it reflects the following sequence:

1. Switches are set for main line in both up and down directions. Up for Coromandel and Down for Howrah.

2. Both mains get through clear signal.

3. Coromandel comes in and unexpectedly diverts to the loop line and stops dead.

4. While this was happening Howrah passes by, but does not vacate the track segment down line even though it occupies the next and following track segment well beyond its length. This possibly reflects the fact that its tail detached and derailed.

If this was the sequence then it would mean that the switch (no 17 in the diagram shown by the poster) failed to lock in straight position properly and yet was detected as locked enough to allow a clear signal to be given. This would be a serious technical failure of the interlocking.

We will of course have to wait for the investigation to proceed and tell us what actually happened.

Still, it is oddly gratifying that this supports my original theory which many thought was crazy in the discussions. I thought it was worth considering since it required the least amount of crazy assumptions.
 
Are there double mains, so 3 tracks total?
In the Bahanaga Bazar station (where the pileup is, facing South towards the station, Up direction, the way Coromandel was going) left to right are: 2 Up loops, Up main, Down main, Down loop, 5 tracks total through the station. There is a platform between the two main tracks. The Up loops branch off from the Up main under the pileup.

Outside of the station there are two mains Up and Down, and there is earthwork to the left of the Up main in preparation for a third main track. When built it will become the Up main and the current Up main will become the Reversible.
 
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So the part of this accident that is really cause me anxiety, is the railway uncoupled the undamaged rail cars, pulled them back, inspected, repowered and recrew them. Then send the remaining cars to their final destination.

Not sure if this an ingrained SOP, a hard working staff, or a group of railroad personnel that were in shock and didn’t know what else to do.

As a paramedic have trains rolling around a major derailment scene, it would be quite unsettling to me. I do think it could be done, but to coordinate this with the active rescue (75 ambulances reported) would be a task best left for the next day after the sunrise.

Not try to shade anyone on scene, it’s just freaking me out a bit.
 
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So the part of this accident that is real cause me anxiety, is the railway uncoupled the rail cars, pulled them back, inspected, repowered and recrew them. Then send the remaining cars to there final destination.

Not sure if this an ingrained SOP, a hard working staff, or a group of railroad personnel that were in shock and didn’t know what else to do.

As a paramedic have trains rolling around a major derailment scene, it would be quite unsettling to me. I do think it could be done, but to coordinate this with the active rescue (75 ambulances reported) would be a task best left for the next day after the sunrise.

Not try to shade anyone on scene, it’s just freaking me out a bit.
I'm going guess, and that's all it is, that trains passing through the scene are signalled down to a prepare to stop speed through the area.
 
If this was the sequence then it would mean that the switch (no 17 in the diagram shown by the poster) failed to lock in straight position properly and yet was detected as locked enough to allow a clear signal to be given. This would be a serious technical failure of the interlocking.
The Empire Builder recent {picked a switch*} in Chicago. Slow speed so no injuries. Not a serious technical failure, just lack of maintenance and poor luck.

*The final story on what happened is still unknown.
Does anyone know the distance from the switch to the point of impact?
Kind of irrelevant. Train had an unscheduled change of tracks. The engineer would of been luck to stay in his seat, applied the brakes takes time for them to apply and slow down the train.
 
I'm going guess, and that's all it is, that trains passing through the scene are signalled down to a prepare to stop speed through the area.
I doubt any trains were/are passing through the area. I believe he’s talking about the front of one train involved which I’m guessing was clear of the derailed cars behind it. Still, people were surely wandering about and could have gotten hurt when they detached the cars and pulled forward.
 
They should be able to see for sure what the setting of the switch actually was since it is one of the few things that was not destroyed. It was sitting right under the derailed Pantry Car in Duronto livery. Most of the trackage on the Up side of the station around the pileup was completely obliterated.

As I mentioned before the event log shows that the train went into the loop and away fro the main line.

Now let the inevitable associated political football begin. Already the bickering over the actual casualty numbers have begun.

One thing I gotta say, the bodies of those electric locos are built like brick shithouses. That thing smashed into the freight train at close to 80mph and mounted it, and both the Engineers (Loco Pilots in Indian lingo), came out injured but alive! The body looks relatively undented.

Does anyone know the distance from the switch to the point of impact?
The final location of the locomotive is around 1500'. based on estimated positions on Google Map, derived from aerial photos of the accident scene. Don't know exactly where the impact point was since it has pretty much been obliterated, but possibly somewhere around 1000' perhaps, or even less.
 
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As of 19:25 (IST) June 4, 2023 (9:55am EDT), from Times of India Live Reporting:

Rescue was completed and restoration work is underway. Work related to track is done and overhead wiring work is going on. Patients are being treated at hospitals: Railways minister Vaishnaw

The goal was to restore service by Tuesday but as it looks limited service through Bahanaga Bazar may be up and running by late Monday.

At present the root cause is believed to be a failure of electronic interlocking plant leading to misrouting, but as usual the final determination will come from the investigation panel which could take a while. As is usually the case there will be an associated judicial probe to determine responsibilities.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/n...ne-tracks-repaired-fit-to-carry-trains-514186
 
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