The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events and/ or publicly available information. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Bharat Sabnani, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
In Saturday’s rail derailment, at least 39 people were killed and 50 others were injured as seven coaches of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneshwar Express were derailed near Kuneru station in Vizianagaram distric of Andhra Pradesh. The reasons behind this accident are still unknown and the investigations are going on.
This is the 3rd rail accident in as many months, taking the overall death toll close to 150. The frequency at which these accidents are occurring shows the negligence of Indian Railways in improving their safety mechanisms. Millions of people travel daily in trains, still very less efforts are made to make their journeys safe. Though Mr. Suresh Prabhu has tried to implement various safety initiatives, but the size of railway network and the inherent problems in the working of Indian Railways have made it difficult for him to improve the safety records.
The 2 major causes of these rail accidents are lack of manpower and lack of technological usage by Railways. Most of the past rail derailments have occurred due to unmanned crossings and human errors. Investments should be made to enhance the technology usage and making the railway systems automated to improve accuracy of signalling and crossing. Apart from this, the Railways should ensure that basic safety accessories are present in all the compartments and not only in the A.C coaches. They should also be ready for disaster management, and the readiness should be such that rescue operations reach the site in least possible time.
Moving from manual operations to automation is the biggest challenge considering the scale of railways in India, but the sooner it is adopted the better it will be for passengers and Indian Railways.