What Will It Take For Us to Avoid Train Tragedies Like Amritsar & Kolkata?

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What Will It Take For Us to Avoid Train Tragedies Like Amritsar & Kolkata?

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

M

ore than 60 people were run over by a train in Amritsar on Dussehra. They were standing on the tracks watching the burning of Ravana’s effigy and could not hear the approaching vehicle over the sound of fireworks. 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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