Sunday, May 8, 2016

By Venkatesan Parthasarathy, The New Indian Express, Chennai  07th May 2016 

Workers from the Southern Railway repositioning the derailed engine near Pattabiram on Friday | Ashwin Prasath


CHENNAI: Even as speculations mount on the exact reason behind Thursday’s collision between two trains, locomotive pilots with years of experience have opined that the signal near Hindu College station may not have been visible to the express train loco pilot.

This comes in the wake of the initial attribution of the mishap to the driver of the Thiruvananthapuram Mail by railway officials. It was stated in a Southern Railway press release that “Chennai-Trivandrum Mail passed the signal at danger and hit Chennai-Pattabiram Siding local EMU,” thereby pointing fingers at the express train driver for neglecting the signal despite it being red.

The signal in question is vital because just before the Pattabiram station a single line branches off towards Pattabiram Military Siding, past three other lines on the busy Chennai-Tiruvallur stretch. Whenever a local train branches off towards the Military Siding station, all signals in the three main lines are in red, which means danger.

Speaking to Express, a loco pilot said drivers were guided by signals and that a signal could normally be seen even from a distance of 3-4km.

“It is possible that the express train pilot was misguided. This particular signal (near Hindu College) is not continuously visible to pilots. He may have been guided by the signal near Pattabiram station on the main line, while bypassing the one located immediately before that,” the loco pilot opined.

Meanwhile, a railway official said, “A team headed by the Commissioner of Railway Safety based in Bangalore will be arriving in the next few days. Only then, the exact cause behind the collision can be ascertained.”

[[A team headed by the Commissioner of Railway Safety will be arriving in the next few days. Only then, the exact cause behind the collision can be ascertained — A railway official

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