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Investigation into Arakkonam Collision Focuses on ‘Signal Flew Back Error’

Investigation into Arakkonam Collision

Focuses on ‘Signal Flew Back Error’

Arun Janardhanan TNN

Chennai:After blaming the EMU driver for the Sitheri train collision that killed ten people last Tuesday, investigating railway officers are now studying the probability of a momentary malfunctioning of the signaling system. They call it the ‘signal flew back error.’
Sources said the last signal the Chennai-Vellore Cantonment EMU--which rammed the rear end of the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train--passed might have shown green for a few seconds, while in real it should have been red.
A ‘signal flew back error’ is when the system shows a wrong signal and turns to the right signal in a few seconds. “The driver might have seen the wrong signal, and by the time the signal corrected itself, the engine would have passed it,” the official said.
According to railway’s first inquiry report on the Sitheri accident, signals between Arakkonam and Sitheri had shown the right colours. “We found that the signals after Arakkonam station showed ‘attention’ (double yellow) and ‘caution’ (single yellow) alerts as a passenger train was on hold about 7km ahead on the same line. But the last signal is suspected to have shown green due to the error, and the driver might have increased the speed,” the official said.
An official in the signal and communication department of Southern Railway said lightning or minor glitches in the network can cause such an error. “From the data we have collected from all the signals along the stretch, it looks like a system error is probable. The driver has had enough experience and seemingly no intention to commit an accident,” said a higher official of Southern Railway.
Officials compare it with a recent train accident near Beijing in China where a bullet train ploughed into the back of another that had stopped due to a signal error. “There the signaling device malfunctioned due to lightning and failed to turn from green to red,” said the official.
A day after the accident, A Rajkumar, motorman of the EMU, had told TOI from his hospital bed that he did not violate signals. Later, he told railway investigating officers that the first three signals were yellow, but the last one showed green. This, he has reportedly told officers, was when he increased the speed.
Officials, who initially blamed him for the disaster, are now taking his statement seriously as the ‘signal flew back error’ theory has gained credence.
Additional divisional railway manager John Thomas said commissioner of railway safety S K Mittal is going through the signal records. The inquiry report is expected to be out in four days.

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PME Due Date

Master Circular No. 25

Copy of Railway Board’s letter No. 69/H/3/11 dated 06.12.1974

Subject: Implementation of the Recommendations of the Visual Sub-Committee.

6. Periodical re-examination of serving Railway Employees:

6.l. In order to ensure the continued ability of Railway employees in Classes A l, A 2, A 3, B l and B 2 to discharge their duties with safety, they will be required to appear for re-examination at the following stated intervals throughout their service as indicated below:

6.1.1. Classes A l, A 2 and A 3 —At the termination of every period of three years, calculated from the date of appointment until they attain the age of 45 years, and thereafter annually until the conclusion of their service.

Note: (l) The staff in categories A l, A 2 and A 3 should be sent for special medical examination in the interest of safety under the following circumstances unless they have been under the treatment of a Railway Medical Officer.

(a) Having undergone any treatment or operation for eye trouble irrespective of the duration of sickness.

(b) Absence from duty for a period in excess of 90 days.

(2) If any employee in medical category A has been periodically medically examined at any time within one year prior to his attaining the age of 45, his next medical examination should be held one year from the due date of the last medical examination and subsequent medical examination annually thereafter.

If, however, such an employee has been medically examined, at any time earlier, than one year prior to his attaining the age of 45, his next medical examination should be held on the date he attains the age of 45 and subsequent medical examination annually thereafter.

Ammendment: It was ammended in 1993 as below

Age Group PME Due

Age 00-45 every 4yrs

Age 45-55 every 2yrs

Age 55-60 every year
As per Rly Bd's Guideline of Medical Exam issued vide LNo. 88/H/5/12 dated 24-01-1993

a) PME would be done at the termination of every period of 4 years from date of appointment / Initial medical Exam till the date of attainment of age of 45 years, every 2 years upto 55 years & there after annual till retirement.
b) Employees who has been periodically examined at any time within 2years prior to his attaining the age of 45years would be examined after 2years from the date of last PME & subsequent PME for every 2years upto 55years age.Of

NRMU 4 you

6.1.2. Classes B-1 and B-2—On attaining the age of 45 years, and thereafter at the termination of every period of five years.