Indian Railways is conducting a thorough review of its safety measures following the recent train accident in West Bengal, with the aim of preventing similar incidents in the future, according to officials.
The review will focus on enhancing automatic block signalling (ABS) across the railway network and addressing issues related to protocols to be followed during system failures, according to an ET report.Additionally, the review will examine measures to reduce loco pilot fatigue and improve the visibility of signals during heavy rainfall.
On June 17, a tragic accident occurred when a container train collided with the Kanchanjunga Express, resulting in the derailment of four passenger coaches and the loss of 10 lives, including the loco pilot of the container train and the guard of the Kanchanjunga Express.
Railway worker unions have raised concerns about the role of ABS after the recent accident, citing a shortage of manpower and inadequate fail-safe measures when the system malfunctions.

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The accident took place on sections where ABS systems were operational, and it is estimated that these systems are functional on only 4,111 route kilometres (RKM) out of the total Indian Railways network of approximately 68,000 RKM. The occurrence of accidents on this small portion of the network emphasizes the need for an urgent review of how operations are handled over ABS systems.
KC James, secretary general of the All India Loco Running Staff Association, pointed out the similarity between this accident and one that occurred near Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, on August 29, 2023. “Two passenger trains were involved in that case and automatic signals had failed there too. Messages were issued to loco pilots, but they misunderstood the instructions,” he said. James also highlighted the lack of foolproof measures in case of signal failures and the increased workload on staff when malfunctions occur.
A representative from the All India Railway Signal and Telecommunication Staff Association, who wished to remain anonymous, stated, “Overburdened existing manpower and lack of hiring of fresh staff are the primary reasons for lapses in signalling operations. We estimate that the Indian Railways needs to hire 20% more manpower in the safety category to complement the 63,000-strong existing workforce in signalling and telecommunications.” This concern was reportedly brought to the attention of the Railway Board in early 2024. The Indian Railways typically installs automatic signalling on double or multiple line sections with high traffic density to enable the operation of more trains with minimal detention.
However, a senior official refuted the concerns about automatic signalling, citing the Mumbai suburban system as a prime example of its successful implementation, where a large number of train services operate daily without significant issues.