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Odisha Train Accident: No 'Kavach' on Route, Could it Have Prevented the Mishap?

Railways confirmed that there was no 'Kavach' system on the Odisha route, where a train collision killed over 260.

Updated
India
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Video Producer: Mayank Chawla

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

At least 288 people have died and over 900 were injured after the Coromandel Express and the Bengaluru-Howrah Express derailed near Balasore in Odisha.

After the tragedy, there is an argument that the ‘Kavach’ safety system could have prevented it.

No Kavach on Collision Route

The indigenous system 'Kavach', developed by the Indian Railways to prevent train accidents due to driver error or other factors, was not available on the collision route.

"The rescue operation has been completed. We are starting the restoration work. The Kavach system was not available on this route," Indian Railways spokesperson Amitabh Sharma told news agency ANI.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had personally tested the 'Kavach' system in March 2022. "Rear-end collision testing is successful. Kavach automatically stopped the locomotive before 380 m of other locomotive at the front," Mr Vaishnaw had tweeted.

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What Is Kavach?

The Indian Railways has developed an indigenous automatic train protection system named 'Kavach' (Train Collision Avoidance System) to prevent accidents caused by human error, resulting in signal passing at danger and over-speeding.

It was developed by Research Design and Standards Organisation in collaboration with three Indian companies.

The total expenditure incurred on the development of Kavach stands at ₹22 crore.

Key Features of Kavach

  • Automatic brake application in case the locomotive pilot fails to act.

  • The provision of line-side signal display in the cabin for improved visibility in foggy conditions and at higher speeds.

  • Continuous updating of movement authority, automatic whistling at level crossings.

  • Collision avoidance through direct loco-to-loco communication.

  • Inclusion of an SOS feature to control trains in emergency situations.

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Routes Under Kavach

On March 29, the Minister of Railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw, provided information in a written reply to a questions in the Lok Sabha about the routes which have been brought under Kavach.

Till March, 1455 Rkm (Route Kilometre) of network route in South Central Railway has been brought under Kavach, out of which 576 Rkm comes under Maharashtra State i.e. Manmad (Excluding) – Dhamabad & Udgir – Parbhani section. This is just about 2 percent of the the total network of the Indian railways.

The rollout of Kavach is planned on the New Delhi–Howrah and New Delhi–Mumbai sections, with a target completion date of March 2024. 

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Collision Could Have Been Prevented: TMC

Trinamool Congress's Saket Gokhale blamed the Modi government of ignoring railway anti-collision technology and demanded the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

"The shocking train crash in Balasore, Odisha, last night could have been prevented by a functioning anti-collision system. But due to BJP's focus on Modi's Vande Bharat PR & photo-ops instead of safety, over 233 people have died & over 900 are injured in just 1 night," Gokhale tweeted.

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