Grievances Of The Indian Railways - Eastern Mirror
Thursday, July 11, 2024
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Editorial

Grievances of the Indian Railways

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Jun 19, 2024 11:39 pm

Train journeys are fast becoming a nightmare as yet another train accident that occured near New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal has so far claimed 10 lives, and injured hundreds. With the alarming increase in the number of train accidents in recent times, it appears that the Indian Railways is yet to learn any lessons from these tragic incidents. The indifferent attitude shown by the railways towards passenger safety is one of the prime reasons behind the accident. The promise of installing Anti-Collision Devices (ACD) throughout its 68 thousand kilometer network in the country still remains unfulfilled. Till now, it has managed to install ACDs in only 1453 kms. The recent incident where an express train was hit by a goods train from behind could have easily been averted if an ACD was in place. More worrying is the fact that even after the accident, railway officials are still not certain when the entire railway network in India will have ACDs. Predictably, paucity of funds is being cited as the main reason behind the delay in making India’s train journeys safe. But the theory has been discarded by many who see no rationale behind the railways’ eagerness to introduce semi-high speed Vande Bharat trains almost every month over the last two years whilst ignoring basic safety requirements.

The question points towards the need to maintain a balance between modernisation and passenger safety. The authorities should do well to remember that while modernisation can wait, any compromise on passenger safety may be fatal as is evidenced by recent track record of the railways. As a matter of fact, failure to prioritise is one of the major reasons behind the poor health of railways in India. Indian railways have not received due attention since Independence despite being the lifeline of the country. Instead of upgrading the railway network, successive regimes had made it a tool to woo the electorate by introducing more trains without showing any concern for the network’s load carrying capacity. It may be mentioned here that in 2009, 100 new trains were introduced. If today the Indian railway is suffering from shortage of funds, it is due to excessive introduction of trains to gain political mileage, which has crippled freight services, the main revenue earner for the railways.

So to bring Indian railways back on track, policy-makers should think rationally rather than bowing to any kind of pressure. As safety is paramount, the railways should take on the task of installing ACDs throughout its entire network on a mission mode to prevent any further train mishaps. Secondly, the railways should fulfil its promise of replacing old coaches with new ones which are relatively safer even in the case of such tragedies. Last but not least, the railways should fill all employment vacancies at the earliest as shortage of qualified manpower is hampering smooth movement of the rail network. Without resolving these burning issues, the railways will continue to bleed, adversely affecting Indians throughout the country.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Jun 19, 2024 11:39:42 pm
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