Train drivers were watching cricket match before fatal crash in India, ministry says

At least 14 people were killed in the accident

Twisted carriages at the site of train crash in Vizianagaram district, in India's Andhra Pradesh state, on October 30, 2023. AFP
Powered by automated translation

The drivers of an Indian passenger train that crashed into another, killing 14 people and leaving more than 50 injured, were distracted because they were watching a cricket match.

The incident happened in October last year when the Visakhapatnam-Rayagada Special rammed two carriages that were part of the Visakhapatnam-Palasa train, derailing it in Vizianagaram district, in southern Andhra Pradesh state.

Both the driver and his assistant lost their lives in the accident.

“The recent case in Andhra Pradesh happened because both the loco pilot and co-pilot were distracted by the cricket match which was going on,” Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told local media at the weekend.

Mr Vaishnaw said the government was installing systems to detect such distractions and ensure drivers and their assistants are fully focused on running the train.

“We will continue to put our focus on safety. We try to find out the root cause of every incident and we come up with a solution so that it is not repeated," he added.

A preliminary investigation after the accident had found the drivers of the Visakhapatnam-Rayagada train had overshot a signal, rear-ending the other train on the same track.

The report has not yet been made public.

The incident happened weeks after another train derailed in the eastern state of Bihar on October 12, killing at least four people and injuring more than 70.

More than 300 people were killed and hundreds injured when two express passenger trains and one freight train collided, derailing a dozen passenger carriages in India’s eastern Odisha state in June last year, in one of the country's worst rail accidents.

India has the world's second-largest railway network. Millions of people travel on trains as part of their daily commute while others undertake longer journeys.

In recent years, safety standards have improved and the number of accidents has fallen. The government says it plans to invest about $130 billion to modernise the decades-old network.

Updated: March 04, 2024, 10:47 AM