Whenever we imagine Indian Railways, what comes to our mind is the innumerable accidents, safety lapses and the endless demands for resignation of the railway minister. But is the situation still the same? Narendra Modi led government has improved on the safety measures of Indians leading to considerable reduction in accidents in Indian Railways.
The government has introduced new technology as well as set up new systems to monitor railways. In 2017-18, Rashtriya Railway Sanraksha Kosh was launched with a funding of Rs 1 lakh crore for next five years. The amount would be used to fund various safety projects of the railways. The railways have registered reduction in accidents as a result of the actions of Narendra Modi government.
The Annual Reports and Year Books of Indian Railways give an interesting picture about the improvement in safety of railway travel.
Reduction in Railway Accidents
If we look at the data from 2009-2010 till 2017-18, we find a marked trend in reduction in accidents (technically called as ‘Consequential Train Accidents’). The fall in railway accidents is steeper under Modi government.
Despite the marginal increase in accidents in 2014, it can be seen that the general trend is of fast reduction in railway accidents over the years. In 2018-19, only 59 accidents were recorded, a historic achievement since Independence.
A parameter to judge railway accidents is to see the number of accidents as a ratio of million kilometers travelled by railways. It takes into account the distance run by all trains since more the travel, more is the probability of accidents. The parameter is called “Accidents Per Million Train Kilometers”
|Year||Accidents per million train kms|
In the above table, notice how the value stagnates from 2011-12. A substantial reduction came 2016-17 onwards and in 2017-18, a historic low of 0.06 was recorded.
Further, accidents can be further sliced up into multiple causes like collision, unmanned crossings, derailments, etc.
Elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings
We always hear of people, vehicles and cattle being mowed down by fast trains. The culprit is unmanned level crossings, i.e crossings where road and railway tracks meet on the same level without any underpass or tunnel. Modi government planned to eliminate such unmanned crossings by converting them to manned crossings with dedicated personnel and erection of barriers or by buildings bridges and underpasses.
It’s not that this work didn’t happen in earlier governments. In 2009-10, 930 such unmanned crossings were eliminated. What Modi government has done is to expedite the process. The numbers for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 are quite impressive with 1503, 1565 and 3479 crossings eliminated respectively. It means just in the last three years, 6547 unmanned level crossings have been eliminated.
The effect on reduction in railway accidents is apparent. Notice the sharp fall after 2014-15.
The record of derailments is a mixed one. While there has been a definite reduction in derailments of railways, the spike in 2016-17 was a cause of concern. The decrease hasn’t been on expected lines.
Zero Collisions in 2018-19
Collisions of two railway is a classic case of failure of railway traffic system and monitoring. In 2009-10 as well as 2011-12 recorded 9 such collisions. The number reduced consistently and in 2018-19, not a single collision occurred.
Numbers tell a story for themselves. Modi government is changing the perception of an often-criticized government agency. The change is in front of our eyes.