We have to upgrade and install a new signal system : Minister

18 September 2011 11:46 am - 15     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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“The railway department currently uses an old signal system. We have to upgrade and install a new signal system,” Minister Welgama speaking exclusively to the Daily Mirror said.

The Alawwa train collision which resulted in the death of three people and injured more than thirty has caused a loss of about Rs.80 million to the Railway Department,  Transport Minister Kumara Welgama said today.

He said the observation compartment cost around Rs.25 million and the damage caused to the Indian built train was around Rs.50 million. “We have not identified any engine damages so far. If there are any damages to the engine the entire loss will be around Rs.100 million,” he said.

 “We have to get hold of the railway guard because he plays a significant role when the train driver overlooks signals that are being given to him. He can apply the breaks when it is needed,” he said.

“We have interdicted him from service as we began an investigation. We do not have the train driver and his assistant to know what exactly happened. We only have the railway guard,” he added. The train driver and his assistant perished during the collision along with a French national.

 “I went to the site had a look at everything from scratch. I spoke to most of the injured. What they told me was that the train was travelling at more than the average speed,” the Minster added.

“The railway department currently uses an old signal system. We have to upgrade and install a new signal system,” Minister Welgama said.

 “I have also instructed the Railways General Manager to investigate whether the signals were given correctly to the deceased train driver. We can track down the signals from the Colombo railway room too,” he said.

Three people including a French national were killed and 37 persons were injured when three trains collided at the Alawwa railway station on Saturday evening. By yesterday, only twenty were reported to be in hospital while the rest had been discharged.

A train plying to Polgahawela from Colombo collided with the Rambukkana bound train from behind. It crashed into the observation compartment of the Rambukkana bound train killing the train driver and his assistant of the Polgahawela bound train.

At the time of the incident the Polgahawela bound train was to be used to push forward another train up to Polgahawela which had stopped at the Alawwa station due to a technical failure.

Two passengers who are in a critical condition are receiving treatment at the ICU of the Kurunegala General Hospital.
The French national was identified as Remie Claude (50). The train driver was A. Kaluarachchi (52) and his assistant was Nihal Udahalankara (49). (Supun Dias)


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  Comments - 15

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  • patriotic Monday, 19 September 2011 02:59 AM

    Already the damage is being done.

    pranandu Monday, 19 September 2011 09:24 AM

    While upgrading signal lights and stuff are better late than never, surely there must be some railyway officials who instructed the second train to push the first one which was broken down so couldnt these same officials informe relevant control room officers concerend not to give the signal for the same track??? Mr Minister please could you look into these officers concerend as well and hope the trade unions will understand the gravity of this without going on strike no sooner the inefficient lazy culprits are identified.

    S.Dilruk Sunday, 18 September 2011 12:08 PM

    Upgrading signal is not enough. Take actions to stop workers under liquor influence. In SL Railway Dep. we can find many workers are under liquor influence while at work.

    Roomy Sunday, 18 September 2011 12:20 PM

    begging somewhere.......

    Big Ears Sunday, 18 September 2011 12:22 PM

    The present signalling system was installed in the 60s during the time of Mr. Rampala, General Manager. It is still in operation and for sure there will be failure. No one has paid any attention to the upgrading of the signalling system. Now all the talk after loss of value life.

    GonAliya Sunday, 18 September 2011 12:26 PM

    Opportunity to fill my tank

    Big Ears Sunday, 18 September 2011 12:26 PM

    The current signalling system up to Rabbukkana was installed in the 60s during the time of Mr. Rampala. The signalling system beyond Rabbukkana is what is installed by the British over 100 years ago. Not government has done improvements for the last 50 years. Not surprising accidents of this nature occur.

    Big Ears Sunday, 18 September 2011 12:22 PM

    Resign Mr. Minister, you have failed to deliver.

    kap Sunday, 18 September 2011 12:52 PM

    do it fast before more people die., Tell me a safe mode to travel in SL, On roads you get these killer bus drivers, On tracks you face these killer engine drivers. May be only option is AIR TAXIS? What i don't understand is the lack of comminucation between drivers / officials. when the first train broke down, the second intercity was pushing it towards the station, none of the officials or the drivers acted so irresponsibly. No one had a mobile phone to advise the control room or the station before to hold all incoming traffic? These kind of officials should be hanged in public, like in China. This is pure stupidity and carelessness. The value of life is going down very fast in SRI LANKA. Do we need so many ministers if a ministry works like this?

    Tma Sunday, 18 September 2011 12:46 PM

    Why wait till this tragedy to install new signals. Its time the Railways upgraded its whole network.

    Uni Student Sunday, 18 September 2011 01:20 PM

    Why don't you implement GPS trail tracking system in Sri Lanka.
    Use Sri Lankan source for that, no need to purchase the systems which cost millions form other countries .
    have a competition between SL universities and the institutes and select the best solution and improve it.
    We can do this every year and will help to grow the SL IT sector fast.
    Just use your brain and ur sources.
    We don't need any excuses from you sir, we know you want to do well in this department, if you want to know the real truth about the CTB and Railway talk to general public who travel in buses and trains.
    I'm sure this will only last few days and everything will back to normal until something happen again..

    palithaeka Sunday, 18 September 2011 01:22 PM

    Wonderful reply, means railway is now not safe to travel?

    Calistus Jayatilleke Sunday, 18 September 2011 01:32 PM

    After the carnage: now only the minister is thinking of upgrading the signal system which had been there for so many decades without any improvements. What a tragedy.

    Big Ears Sunday, 18 September 2011 01:52 PM

    The train pushing the failed train is authorized to do so by the control room. The problem is as to how the other train got on the same block of track and slammed into the train in front. Using mobile phones will not sort the problem as there is no blanket mobile coverage along the track. In modern day railway signalling it has to have its own secure communication system, These are commercially available.

    Nilantha Monday, 19 September 2011 01:23 PM

    We are in front of another mega corruption


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