Train Derailment: Negligence of Indian Railways

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 Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced.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.

Akanksha Shrivastava, MBA 2016-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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The sheer negligence on the part of Indian Railways continues as we hear the news of train derailment third time in the last two months, the latest being the Hirakhand Express derailment. The reason for the recent derailment is not known which will unveil as the investigation progresses, however in the case of Indore-Patna Express and Ajmer-Sealdah Express derailments rail fracture has been suspected as a cause. Factors responsible for rail fracture are poor track maintenance including lack of proper fittings and ballast on the railway lines.

In most of the derailments cases, casualties are high due to an absence of modern Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) coaches in the train. These coaches can reduce damage as they have more in-built safety features which enable to absorb shock and impact of derailment more effectively. The lack of infrastructure for the safety of the people and evident failure in maintaining the safety standards of the track points makes it imperative to revisit current operations of Indian railways before dreaming of running bullet trains. A committee should be set up to analyse these derailment cases and ensure that staffs which showed laxity towards maintaining the tracks are penalised so that such rail disaster leading to loss of lives are not repeated.

Such accidents have also brought into question the money spent on asset maintenance, including track renewal and if the railways don’t scrutinise its functioning then the investment of $137 billion pledged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over five years to modernise the crumbling railways may not yield expected results.

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