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    The Curious Case Of Train Derailment In India: Demystifier

    By

    January 27, 2017

    Another train derailment in Andhra Pradesh, almost 4th or 5th of it’s kind in the last 4-5 months. And this is me talking in approximation!

    Hirakhand Express Derailment

    For some reason, trains keep derailing in India and such accidents are on a surge from a past few months. This is why we thought of demystifying the curious case of train derailment in India!

    Derailment On A Rise

    According to data released by the National Crime Record Bureau, a staggering 27,581 people died in rail accidents in India in the year 2014. The report is almost 2 years old and these accidents have only increased since then.

    What could be the reason for increase in such accidents? Well, before moving on to analysing the causes, lets take a look at some relevant statistics about Indian Railways.

    Train Derailment 1

    So, naturally if we have such a huge network of railways what becomes immensely important is it’s regulation as well as maintenance. Now, this is where problems arise.

    Why Do Trains Derail?

    Before moving on to country specific reasons leading to derailments, lets first look into why trains derail at all? Now, there can be umpteen reasons because of which a train can derail.

    In fact, the actual reasons can only be told after thorough investigation. Although majorly, derailments can be categorised under:

    1. Technical faults on unsafe side: Usually rail systems are designed such that if any failure occurs, it occurs on safe side. Like, if a brake system has air leakage, it will fail and brakes will be applied and train will come to a stop.

    Or, if there is a signal failure due to any kind, the signals will go to danger and indicate the driver to stop the train. But, unfortunately sometimes failures occur on unsafe sides as well.

    -An axle breaks down and topples the coach resulting in derailment.

    -Rail fractures which are larger in size can cause derailment.

    2. Manual faults in train operations: This is the most common cause of derailment. When trains are being dealt with manually,  there are high chances that operating personnels may create a situation in which conflicting movements can take place.

    -When a point is clamped and trains are worked on manual procedures, the points may be set in state where there can be two movements for a train, which may result in derailments.

    -Two trains sent on same track/section because of manual negligence. Ignoring proper safety procedures and bypassing interlocking may result in derailment.

    -Over speeding on sections with speed limitations, ignoring signals, etc. are many of the reasons which can cause derailment.

    3. Miscellaneous reasons: Nothing can be done for these reasons, outside interference when someone uproots track mid-section, deliberately putting obstructions on tracks etc.

    This is a major reason for derailment of trains in Naxal affected regions in the country.

    Causes/Reasons (Specifically In India)

    Derailments in India happen because of:

    1. Bankruptcy:

    Major contributor to the system’s financial woes are heavily subsidized fares, which the government has shied away from increasing. Thus, revenue received is less which gives less money for maintenance. Also, there is financial mismanagement in the organisation.

    All of this leads to nothing but less spent on maintenance, a resultt of which is nothing but train derailments and accidents!

    2. Investment in the wrong places:

    This sector sees under investment despite of the fact that we have such huge railway network to maintain. And even if there are investments, they are for all the wrong advancements. For instance, investments for bullet trains or wifi setup in trains aren’t the need of the hour.

    What is needed is investment in safety mechanisms. Investments in technological advancements that help curb such accidents. Investments for maintenance is what is needed more than wifi or better seats in coaches!

    In conclusion, what I want to highlight is if we really want to put an end to such accidents which cause harm to both life and property of huge masses every year, it’s about time we realise that Railways need to transform from a “commercial” sector to basic “infrastructure provider”!
    And for this to happen, we really need to solve the financial woes of our Railway system.

    Picture Courtesy: Google Images

    You’d also like to read: Demystifier: If You Love Sleeping, Then We Need To Do Some Mattress Talk

    Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.

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    • Anant Singh Raghuvanshi

      Indian trains on some routes carry as much as twice their capacity…and also no.of trains and their speed is being increased day by day whereas tracks that are in use today some of the were laid many year’s ago and were not meant to carry such load. Also railway pays more attention on goods train cause they are main source of income.