Balasore Train Tragedy: Barring General Manager, All Five Top Officials Shunted Out Of South Eastern Zone


In a delayed action, the Indian Railways shunted out five senior officials of the South Eastern Railway, including those responsible for operations, signalling and safety, 20 days after the ghastly triple train accident in Balasore district in Odisha.

The train accident, that killed nearly 300 people, took place at Bahanaga Bazar station on the evening of 2 June.

Though the Railways maintained that these are “routine” transfers, the action was being perceived as a fallout of the worst train tragedy involving three trains in the recent times.

Effecting major changes in the top management at South Eastern zone after Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s second visit to Bahanaga Bazar station on 20 June, the Railway Ministry transferred Kharagpur divisional railway manager (DRM) Shujat Hashmi and the South Eastern Railway (SER) zone’s principal chief signal and telecommunication engineer P M Sikdar, principal chief safety officer Chandan Adhikary, principal chief security commissioner D B Kasar, and principal chief commercial manager Md Owais.

However, despite much anticipation about the fate of general manager, (GM) the top most post of the zone, South Eastern Railways GM Archana Joshi continues on the post.

GM and DRM are considered as key posts for zone and division, respectively.

Earlier, the additional general manager of the zone, Atulya Sinha, was transferred, in what was now being seen as the first major action following the tragedy.

The Railways, however, maintained all these transfers were “routine”. According to the Railway Board order, Kharagpur DRM Hashmi was replaced by K R Chaudhari, chairman of the Railway Recruitment Board, Ajmer.

Principal chief signal and telecommunication engineer is responsible for maintaining signalling and telecom operations of the zone. The triple train accident happened due to the malfunctioning of the signalling equipment.

Sikdar has been transferred to North Central Railway as an officer on special duty, Adhikary has been sent to the Northeast Frontier Railway.

Principal chief security commissioner Kasar, who is the security custodian of all railway assets and structures, including track and fixtures, rolling stock, signalling gears and railway buildings and establishments, has also been transferred.

Md Owais has been transferred to Northeast Frontier Railway and posted as chief administrative officer. According to sources, a few more officials at middle and junior levels stationed at station and division are likely to face the heat.

The report of Railway Safety Commissioner is awaited and after receiving the initial findings, some more actions are expected to follow.

The crash involving Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a goods train occurred around 7pm on 2 June, near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore.

The section comes under Kharagpur division of the South Eastern Railway.

Railway Minister had gone to the station on 20 June to thank local people who had come forward to help the rescue and relief operation during the initial period, considered as golden hour after the accident.