The junior engineer, entrusted with signalling work in Soro and Bahanaga Bazar, came under the scanner because signal protocols were found violated, a source said.The CBI has zeroed in on “human interference in signalling” as the reason for the accident.
CBI conducting simulations for crash probe
Top railway officials familiar with the CBI probe and the parallel Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) inquiry said the digital circuit for the interlocking signal was manually bypassed while repairing a breakdown.
The restored signal did not match the intended track position, leading to the Coromandel Express entering a loop line and crashing into a stationary freight train carrying iron-ore, and then jumped the tracks to hit another passenger train moving in the opposite direction.
The investigators are trying to ascertain whether the signal was deliberately tampered with or was an act of negligence or an error made in a hurry to give passage to the two long-distance trains on the busy Chennai-Howrah route, an arm of the Golden Quadrilateral. Signal maintenance work was undertaken at Bahanaga hours before the accident. South Eastern Railway chief public relations officer Aditya Kumar Chaudhary said the investigators of CBI and CRS have been questioning railway officials as part of their investigation. “Wherever the inquiry team is going and whoever is required to be present there, they are going there,” Chaudhary said.
The CBI has questioned over 20 railway officials, but the significant difference in the case of the junior engineer is that his home in Soro town was sealed Monday to carry out searches. A three-member CBI team searched Tuesday the rented house of the junior engineer, a Bengal native, questioned him for several hours and then left with him in the evening, a source said.
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Sources said the CBI has been carrying out simulations to determine the sequence of events leading to the accident. The agency has also identified and listed the responsibilities of several individuals, including supervisory and field staff of the railways, as well as the suppliers of equipment needed in running trains. Officials tied to the Bahanaga Bazar station have been asked to be in touch with senior railway officials and be available for questioning by the CBI and CRS as and when required.