Kanchanjunga tragedy: ECR suspends issuing of T/A 912

Driver unions have claimed there is no speed restriction mentioned on the note and its member was not at fault

Wreckage of the trains near Rangapani railway station on 18 June (photo: PTI)
Wreckage of the trains near Rangapani railway station on 18 June (photo: PTI)


The East Central Railway (ECR) has directed station masters in its area not to issue the note that authorises train drivers to cross signals in case of failure of the automatic signalling system, days after the Kanchanjunga Express-goods train collision in another zone killed 15 people.

The decision to suspend the issuing of the T/A 912, a written authority letter, was taken at a safety meeting of the East Central Railway (ECR), according to a circular issued by the zone on 21 June.

On 17 June, the goods train rammed into the passenger train in West Bengal's Darjeeling district that falls under the Northeast Frontier Railway zone. Drivers of both trains had been issued the T/A 912 as the automatic signalling on the Ranipatra station-Chattar Hat Junction was "defective", officials had said.

While the Railway Board in its initial response had said the now-deceased goods train was over-speeding, driver unions have claimed there is no speed restriction mentioned on the note and its member was not at fault.

The ECR's circular said, "It has been decided in a safety meeting held by GM/ECR (General Manager/East Central Railways) with PHODs (Principal Head of Departments) and DRMs (Divisional Railway Managers) that during failure of automatic signal T/A 912 will not be issued till further advice."

"In the place of T/A 912, provision of G&SR 9.02 will be used for double line till further advice as mentioned below," it said.

According to the G&SR 9.02, during automatic signal failure, train drivers will stop at each red signal for one minute during the day time and two minutes at night, and then proceed at 15 kmph when the view ahead is clear and 10 kmph when view ahead is obstructed due to any reason up to the next signal.

Earlier, Eastern Railway Zone also issued a similar order on 19 June banning the issuance of T/A 912. However, it withdrew the order the next day.

On the 17 June accident, the Railway Board had said the goods train driver should have maintained a 10 kmph speed after stopping for one minute at each defective signal, the loco unions contradicted it.

Working president of the Indian Railway Loco Runningmen Organisation (IRLRO), Sanjay Pandhi, had said, "T/A 912 is issued to suspend the provisions of G&SR 9.02 which mandates the driver to maintain 10 kmph speed. T/A 912 is issued when all lines between two stations are clear and it authorises the driver to move at the normal applicable speed limit in that section."

The applicable normal speed of any train, also known as the booked speed, is anything up to 130 kmph.

On the ECR circular, Pandhi said, "This ECR letter clearly shows that T/A 912 gives authority to the driver to proceed at the normal speed. They have suspended it so G&SR 9.02 will be followed now."

He also said the issuing of directions and their withdrawal within various railway zones and divisions, shows that the senior railway ministry officials need to sit and decide among themselves what rules they want to convey.

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