What Will It Take For Us to Avoid Train Tragedies Like the Bihar Derailment?

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What Will It Take For Us to Avoid Train Tragedies Like the Bihar Derailment?

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

I

ndia woke up to the news of yet another trail derailment this morning. On Sunday, at least seven people were killed and 24 injured after 11 coaches of the Delhi-bound Seemanchal Express derailed in Bihar’s Vaishali district. Three coaches of the super-fast train have been completely destroyed. Ghastly indeed, yet there’s a grisly sense of familiarity to this. After all, India, with its vast network of railways (the fourth largest in the world), sees a worrying number of accidents on the track each year.

Statistically, the number of railway accidents is decreasing. As data published last year shows, the number of accidents dropped from 325 in 2003-04 to 106 in 2015-16. It’s an improving safety record, but needless to say it is also far from perfect. Administrative negligence and a disregard for public safety led to heavy losses, both for the victims and the Indian Railways, who pay out ₹303 lakh on average as compensation per year.

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