Critically examine the various issues around Railway safety in India.
Indian Railways is the lifeline of the nation. It not only transports passengers and goods, but it also connects the entire nation into a common thread. However, despite being such important mode of transportation, there are frequent instances of rail accidents putting the lives of people in danger. The issues related to railway safety are: The financial crunch is the real cause due to which modernization and maintenance are compromised.
- Out of total rail accidents, 1/3 are due to human error specifically the failure of railway staff. Poorly trained staff, obsolete technology are major reasons for it.
- As per the annual report of the railway ministry, derailment seems to be the most common cause of train accidents. Derailments are mainly caused by rail fractures. Rail fractures occur either due to manufacturing defects or due to lack of maintenance
- Another reason is that train coaches are old, some of them Integral Coach Factory (ICF) which are infamous for piling up on collision. The Anil Kakodkar committee on railway safety has recommended switching to Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) which are more efficient at shock absorption and can reduce incidents of the derailment. Both old track and old coaches need replacement. However, lack of funds impedes the progress.
- Sabotage, equipment failure, overcrowding, and overloading are the other reasons behind rail accidents.
The safety of passenger should be the top priority. Safety fund ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ should be efficiently utilized for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation work, replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system.