Between train collision and derailment, which is the bigger villan? It’s rail derailment, suggests empirical evidence.
According to documents available with Express, 514 people died following derailments across the country between 2001 and 2011, as compared to 467 train collision deaths during the same period.
Similarly, more people (around 2,000) were injured in train derailments during the same period as compared to collisions (1,300).
All this is apart from the deaths recorded along unmanned level crossings, which at 1,560 was the chart topper.
A high level safety review committee constituted by the Ministry of Railways and headed by former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Dr Anil Kakodkar had found that derailments constitute more than half of the total accidents on Indian Railway. The report based on consequential accidents reported from 2006 to 2011 observed that 29 per cent of derailments were due to track defects — largely rail and weld failures.
“The move by the railways in 2006 to allow wagons to carry load in excess of their capacity is a prime reason for wear and tear of the railway track,” charged Elangovan, working president of Dakshin Railway Employees Union (DREU). “At present, each wagon carries 10 tonnes over and above its carriage capacity of 50 tonnes. According to a study, 70 per cent of non-detectable rail fractures were reported after the implementation of the new policy,” he added.
The Kakodkar panel had also suggested stopping production of 52 kg rails and sleepers.
It recommended the use of only 60 kg/m head hardened rails on curves sharper than 400 metre radius of curvature. Both 52 kg per metre and 60 kg per metre rail sections are used in India, which has a total track length of 11,3611 km.