In case of a train accident, the victims are entitled to compensation according to the gravity of the injury. In the case of death, the victim's family can claim Rs. 4 lakh from the Railway Claims Tribunal, a quasi-judicial body.
Apart from victims of rail accidents, this compensation is also offered to victims of dacoities, shoot-outs, murder, sabotage and bomb blasts in trains and on railway premises.
The compensation amount has been increased with effect from November 1, 1997 after an amendment to the Railway Accidents and Untoward Incidents (Compensation) Rules, 1990. Under the rules, each railway passenger, platform ticket-holder and railway employee on duty is insured.
The Railways claim that the insurance scheme is 'unique' as other railway systems world-wide only offer compensation to victims of "usual train accidents".
The minimum compensation for the injured is Rs. 32,000. The amount varies with the extent of injuries. For example, if a victim loses either hands or legs or suffers severe loss of sight or hearing he will be entitled to the maximum compensation of Rs. 4 lakh.
Railways provide Rs. 40 for transporting an accident victim to nearest hospital. The ex gratia payment, which is made on the spot, has been fixed at Rs. 15,000 to the kins of those killed, Rs. 5,000 for seriously injured and Rs. 500 for simple injury.
Section 124A of the above act excludes from its purview those who commit or attempt to commit suicide, those who inflict injury by self and those who commit criminal acts or acts in a state of intoxication or insanity and also the cases affected by any natural cause of disease.
It reads: "When in the course of working a railway an untoward incident occurs, then whether or not there has been any wrongful act, neglect or default on the part of the railway administration such as would entitle a passenger, who has been injured or the defendant of a passenger who has been killed, to recover damages in respect thereof, the railway administration shall be liable to pay compensation to such extent as may be prescribed."