Rail accident in India: how safe is the country’s rail network? | world news

Friday’s fatal accident in Balasore district of Odisha, which has so far claimed more than 280 lives and injured 900, has drawn attention to the safety of the rail network in the world’s second most populous country.

Run by state monopoly Indian Railways, the network is the fourth largest in the world and carries 13 million people every day and transports 1.5 billion tonnes of freight annually over more than 40,000 miles (64,000 km) of track .

It includes 14,000 passenger trains and 8,000 stations.

Money has been poured into upgrading the system in recent years, with $30bn (£24.1bn) committed last year for new trains and modern stations, as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pushed to boost infrastructure and connectivity in the country. – growing economy.

Hundreds dead and many more injured after accident in Balasore district of Odisha

The government’s record capital expenditure for the railways, a 50% increase over the previous financial year, had focused on upgrading tracks, reducing congestion and adding new trains, including including a new Indian-built semi-high-speed train called the Vande Bharat Express. – or “Hail India”.

However, Friday’s fatal accident, India’s worst in nearly three decades, shows that investments must also address safety concerns, experts say.

Please use Chrome browser for more accessible video player

‘Unbelievable situation’ at train crash site

Learn more:
At least 280 dead and hundreds injured in Balasore district of Odisha

“The safety record has improved over the years, but there is still work to be done,” said Prakash Kumar Sen, head of the mechanical engineering department at the Kirodimal Institute of Technology in central Israel. ‘India.

“Human error or poor track maintenance are usually to blame in such accidents,” Sen said.

The railways have introduced more trains to meet growing demand, but the network workforce to maintain them has not kept pace, he said. Workers are not properly trained or their workload is too high and they do not get enough rest.

India’s Worst Train Disasters

June 1981: India’s deadliest rail disaster occurred in the state of Bihar, near the Nepalese border. At least 800 people have died after seven carriages of an overcrowded passenger train exploded off the track and into a river during a cyclone.

July 1988: In Quilon, southern India, 106 people died when an express train derailed and fell into a monsoon lake.

August 1995: At least 350 people were killed when two trains collided 200 kilometers from Delhi.

August 1999: Two trains crash near Calcutta, killing 285 people.

October 2005: In the state of Andhra Pradesh, at least 77 people died when several carriages of a passenger train derailed.

July 2011: In Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh, a mail train derailed, killing 70 people and injuring over 300.

November 2016: An express train derails in Uttar Pradesh, killing 146 people and injuring over 200.

January 2017: In Andhra Pradesh, 41 people died when several carriages of a passenger train ran off the track.

October 2018: At least 59 people died in the northern Indian city of Amritsar when a commuter train slammed into a crowd gathered on the track for a festival. Fifty-seven people were injured.

The east coast route on which Friday’s accident happened is one of the oldest and busiest in the country, as it also carries much of India’s coal and oil freight.

“These tracks are very old…the load on them is very high, if the maintenance is not good, breakdowns will occur,” Sen said.

The incident took place in Balasore district in the state of Odisha
The incident took place in Balasore district in the state of Odisha

Indian Railways says safety is a key objective, pointing to a low accident rate over the years.

“That question [on safety] arises because there has been an incident now. But if you see the data, you will see that there has not been a major accident for years,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Railways said.

The number of accidents per million train-kilometres fell to 0.03 in 2021-22 from 0.10 in 2013-14, the spokesman said.

“A malfunction has occurred and that is what the investigation will reveal,” the spokesperson said, referring to Friday’s accident. “We’re going to find out why it happened and how it happened.”

Mr. Modi at the crash site on Saturday.  Photo: Government of India
Mr. Modi at the crash site on Saturday. Photo: Government of India

From 2017 to 2021, there were more than 100,000 train-related deaths in India, according to a 2022 report released by the National Crime Records Bureau. This figure includes cases in which passengers fell from trains, collisions and people mowed down by high-speed trains on the tracks.

Srinand Jha, an independent transport expert, said the railways were working on safety mechanisms such as anti-collision devices and emergency alert systems, but were slow to install them on the network .

“They will always tell you that accidents are at a very manageable level because they talk about it in terms of percentages,” Mr Jha said, adding that in recent years there has been more emphasis on new trains and modern stations as well as tracks, signaling systems and asset management.

“This accident highlights the need to focus more on these aspects,” he said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GreenLeaf Tw2sl