The mowing down of 37 pilgrims by the Saharsa-Patna Rajya Rani Superfast Express in Bihar’s Khagaria district brings focus on a horrendous aspect about rail operations in India: As many as 40 people are killed on tracks by speeding trains each day.
From January 2009 to June 2012, no less than 50,293 people were run over by trains, official records show.
This works out to 14,369 rail-trespass deaths in one year; 1,197 in one month and 40 deaths each day.
Many more people, other than passengers, die on Indian rail tracks. The number is higher than the combined number of such deaths reported in the rest of the world.
Only 34 deaths of ‘other than passengers’ were reported in the UK from 2001 to 2011, while 695 such deaths were reported in the US from 2000 to March 2012. In Japan, no accidents or passenger deaths have been reported in the last 50 years.
“While most countries are moving towards a no-accident and no-casualty regime, the Indian Railways continues to be the biggest killer. “This situation exists because rail transport in India lacks an independent regulator and an independent safety organization,” said Sanjay Pandhi, central working president of the Indian Railway Loco Running men Organisation (IRLRO).
As for the Monday incident, the railways is being accused of violating General and Subsidiary Rules (G&SR) on running trains at slow speed during festivals, mass public gatherings, ‘melas’. The train was reported to be running at a speed of 80 km per hour.
“The divisional administration failed to take the adequate precaution of informing the driver about the heavy rush on tracks at Dharma Ghat on the walkie talkie from the previous station,” officials conceded.
Approximately 40% of all casualties are deaths at level crossings, but the task of /building road over-bridges (ROBs) and road under-bridges (RUBs) has remained incomplete.
Of the total 31,254 level crossings, 12,582 (or 40%) are unmanned. The cost of building ROBs and RUBs has been estimated at R36,000 crore. This task will remain unfinished even in 2017, as only 9,808 ROBs and RUBs are targeted to be manned or closed during the 12th plan period (2012-13 to 2016-17).