Bloody Journey Of Rail Tracks Continues

New Delhi, December 21: | Updated: Dec 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
The death of at least 20 passengers of Bangalore Express in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh on Saturday will not set off a debate on whether it was an act of sabotage or not. Neither will it see the Railways do some introspection. For, the reasons for accidents are only too obvious for officials and experts to understand.

It is a known fact that it takes more than the grace of god to keep accidents at bay a well maintained track and equipment, a trained staff which does not falter under fatigue, and technology which leaves nothing to chance and prevents accidents.

Accidents are bound to happen when the situation is exactly the opposite. Agency reports quoting general manager of South Central Railway S N Singla said that the railway track where the train derailed was found in two pieces. It appears it had been cut. Some people say it was broken, said Mr Singla.

Railway minister Nitish Kumar who reached the accident site after flagging off a new superfast train in Patna had nothing to say on the reasons till the reports last came in. Adverse media reactions to his observations on the cause of the Kolkata Rajdhani accident in September have made the minister cautious this time.

Lack of resources to renew infrastructure was the constant refrain of railway authorities prior to the setting up of Rs 17,000-crore Special Railway Safety Fund (SRSF). It can no longer by an excuse now but to expect cent per cent safety to follow so soon after setting up of SRSF will amount to demanding too much from the Railways.

Renewals and safety enhancement through other means like track circuiting and improving signalling will take some time to materialise, says an official.

A foolproof rail system is, however, not an altogether impossible proposition. Railways former member (traffic) Shanti Narain. Shinkasen runs a high-speed network in Japan and it has a 100 per cent safety record. This has been made possible through latest technology and dedicated tracks with no interference by road traffic, he adds.

With the number of trains running on tracks increasing after each budget announcement, the pressure on infrastructure is immense. But, Mr Narain feels that the technology used in rolling stock should also ensure that the wear and tear of the wheels and of the track is minimal.