Of the six train accidents that took place this year, the one on Sunday was the most ghastly. The nation woke up to the tragic news of over 100 casualties and about 226 passengers suffering injuries, when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhraya in Kanpur Dehat district in the early hours of Sunday. Four sleeper coaches of the train were damaged in the accident that took place at around 3 am. Continuing train accidents raise the question, what happened to the promises made in subsequent rail budget about safety measures.
Ahead of the Railway Budget this year, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had said the focus was on upgrading the system and using information technology to integrate various systems, including track maintenance and signaling, to develop a mechanism that would reduce errors (mostly human errors) and ensure prevention of accidents.
Fortunately, some of the train accidents that took place this year did not have any casualties. Let’s take a look at each of these incidents, and it would be clear that if safety mechanism were implemented, the accidents could have been prevented.
- Four coaches of Kanyakumari-Bangalore City Express (Island Express) derailed near Vellore district of Tamil Nadu on February 5 earlier this year. According to the media reports, at least 13 persons were injured in the incident.
The month of May saw the maximum number of train-related mishaps.
- Eight coaches of Old Delhi-Faizabad Express derailed near Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh on May 1. Around 70 persons suffered injuries.
- A few days later on May 6, the Thiruvananthapuram Superfast Mail jumped the signal and hit a suburban train on its side near Pattabiram station in Chennai. Six passengers, all on the Chennai- Thiruvananthapuram Mail, had been injured.
- Two weeks later, on May 19, the engine of Assam-bound Vivek Express train derailed near Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu. The incident reportedly took place due to a landslip after heavy rains in the region. However, no one was injured.
- On August 28, hundreds of passengers on Thiruvanathapuram-Mangalore Express had a miraculous escape when 13 coaches of the train derailed at Karukutty near Angamaly station in Ernakulam district of Kerala. No one was injured.