A day after the Railways in a report said that the train accident in Odisha’s Balasore occurred due to faulty signalling and botched repair works, Opposition parties on Wednesday criticised the Centre saying it has “compromised” on the core issues of safety.
In one of the worst train accidents in India, 293 passengers died and more than 900 were injured after three trains collided with each other on June 2 in Balasore.
The accident took place when two coaches of the Yesvantpur-Howrah Express derailed near the Bahanaga Road railway station. The derailed coaches came in the path of the speeding Coromandel Express on the adjoining track and collided with it. A goods train was also hit in the process.
In his report submitted to the Railway Board, Commissioner of Railway Safety AM Chowdhary said that wires inside a location box were wrongly labelled and the error remained undetected for years, ultimately leading to a mix-up during the repair work.
The first repair work was carried out in 2018, while the second was done just hours before the accident took place.
The Congress on Wednesday said that inauguration of Vande Bharat trains continue despite the devastating rail accident.
Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh wrote on Twitter that the Balasore tragedy took place due to misplaced priorities.
“In the craze for inaugurating Vande Bharat trains, fixating on bullet trains and tinkering with specialised cadres, the Modi government has thoroughly compromised on basic issues of railway safety that don’t make for photo-ops and headlines,” he added.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said it is the Centre’s responsibility to ensure the safety of passengers, reported The New Indian Express.
“We appeal that do not get into this business of hot food and new Vande Bharats,” Shrinate said. “First ensure the safety of those travelling by train. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that people reach their destinations safely and not just keep flagging off trains.”
The Trinamool Congress accused the Centre of “prioritising public relations” over the safety of passengers.
“India’s passenger trains are neglected and remain mobile mortuaries,” party leader Derek O’Brien said, according to PTI. “In Parliament, Opposition has often red-flagged serious issues and offered constructive suggestions. No one listened...Was maintenance jeopardised because it was a service dog, not a show dog?”