Keeping Country’s Lifeline On Track - Eastern Mirror
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Editorial

Keeping Country’s Lifeline on Track

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By EMN Updated: Nov 01, 2023 10:01 pm

Two tragic accidents within a month have raised serious doubts about the safety of passengers travelling by train. At least 18 people were killed and hundreds injured in the mishaps involving the Assam-bound North East Superfast Express in Bihar on October 11, and then in Andhra Pradesh involving two passenger trains on October 29. This came after about 300 travellers were killed in one of the worst accidents in the history of the Indian Railways, when the Coromandel Express collided with two other trains in the Balasore district of Odisha in June. These incidents indicate the existence of grave flaws hampering the smooth functioning of the railways in the country. Experts have pointed out that poor maintenance of railway tracks, primitive signaling system, inadequate manpower and human error, all combined, have led to frequent train accidents, and expressed the need for a complete overhaul by the Indian Railways, in regard to both safety and punctuality.

Well, the Indian Railways too has been demanding the upgrade of infrastructure for a long time, especially with the number of trains and passengers having increased manifold. It’s a pity that such a legit demand has been ignore all these while. The government can’t afford to delay the overhauling of railway infrastructure for the safety of the passengers. It also should address the manpower issue at the earliest. Primary investigation had pointed to poor track maintenance as the possible cause of derailment of the North East Superfast Express in Buxar. The reports of outsourcing track maintenance work to private parties due to lack of manpower is a matter of concern, as such specialized job requires expertise. The Indian Railways has to solve this issue by recruiting qualified engineers and linemen to ensure safety.

As per the data released by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, 55 per cent of nearly 300 train accidents that have taken place between 2017-18 and 2021-22 in the country were caused by human errors. The preliminary report on the last week’s accident in Andhra Pradesh also pointed to such a lapse as the loco pilot overran a stop signal. Measures, including installation of anti-collision devices could help curb such issue. Interestingly, the railways had announced in December last year that it had developed an indigenously built anti-collision device called ‘Kavach’ to be installed in all the trains to avoid such mishaps. But the recent train collisions have cast doubts if the device has been installed at all.

Notwithstanding the construction of various express highways across the length and breadth of the country, the Indian Railways still remains the lifeline of the national economy. Development and maintenance of railways should be a priority, being the primary mode of transportation for freight and passengers. A zero-tolerance policy against human errors is necessary to stop train accidents and to keep the lifeline of the country on track.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 01, 2023 10:01:23 pm
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