The number of people dying in train accidents in India in the past ten years or so is substantially more than four times the combined figure for Canada, the US and the UK.
For the past 50 years, Japan has reported no passenger deaths. Against the 623 train-related fatalities reported in these countries from 2001 to 2011, 3,029 passengers were reported killed in India from 1999 to 2009, official documents show.
However, train journey is undertaken by many more people here than in the countries mentioned.
In an internal note, the Indian Railways have drawn statistical satisfaction from the fact that accidents have come down from 0.44 mishaps per million train km in 2002-03 to 0.15 in 2010-11.
However, not all railway functionaries are comfortable with this number jugglery.
“These statistics hide more than they reveal,” admitted Sanjay Pandhi of the Indian Railway Loco Running men Organisation.
Railway officials say accidents happen because of the vast nature of operations — 19,000 trains running over a network of 63,974 route km and transporting 23 million passengers each day.
But countries running equally huge rail networks have a better accident record.
Canada’s rail network is marginally lower than India’s, but only four passenger deaths have been reported there from 2001 to 2011.
For the same period, 571 passenger deaths took place in the US, which runs a rail network about four times India’s, and 48 deaths were reported in the UK.