Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has registered its best safety figures in five years for the corresponding 12-month period with 40 deaths in 75 accidents between September 2017 and August 2018. The announcement was made by a Railway Ministry official recently, quoting official data. While there have been 80 train accidents and 249 fatalities between September 2016 and August 2017, the Indore-Patna Express derailment near Kanpur in November 2016 alone had killed more than 150 railway passengers, the number of deaths stood at 40, in the corresponding period for 2017 and 2018, the official said.
During this period, there were two major accidents, the Utkal Express derailment in August 2017 which killed more than 20 people and on April 26 this year, the death of 13 children in Uttar Pradesh after a train rammed into their school van. Similarly, the number of deaths was 275 in 139 accidents between September 2013 and August 2014 and the number of deaths was 196 in 108 accidents in the corresponding period in 2014-2015.
The official said that comparing the figures between September 1, 2013, to August 31, 2014, to that of the number between September 1, 2017, to August 31, 2018, the fatality figures in collisions and derailments taken together has witnessed a 93 per cent reduction, reducing from 62 to 4. Whereas, injury figures in collision and derailment witnessed a 95.6 per cent reduction, reducing from 272 to 12. The official further said that during this period, the total number of collision and derailments have come down to 56 from 69.
As per the official data, the rest of the 36 deaths in 2017-2018 were caused by other factors – twenty-eight fatalities due to mishaps at unmanned-level crossings, six deaths at manned-level crossings, one death in a coach fire accident and one death in a miscellaneous accident.
Meanwhile, the official mentioned that in the last four years, better railway tracks, replacement of existing coaches with LHB coaches and more focus on maintenance have resulted in fewer accidents due to technical reasons. The official further added that during this period, the vast reduction in injuries and fatalities happened because of regular safety reviews, massive renewal of railway tracks, better safety training of staff as well as close monitoring of safety performance.
Another key factor which has enhanced the safety is the removal of unmanned level-crossings. In 2017-2018, 1,565 unmanned level-crossings were eliminated. In 2018-19, the target is to remove 1,600 of such crossings. Indian Railways plans to eliminate all the unmanned level-crossings by March 2020. As per the data, the number of accidents caused due to unmanned level crossings during September 2013 to August 2014 was 52, in 2014-2015 it was 39, in 2015-2016 it was 23, in 2016-2017 it was 13 and in 2017-2018 it was just 8.