Rail accident

Are the Indian Railways (IR) becoming increasingly unsafe?

  • At 3AM on 20 Nov 16, the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhraya, near Kanpur, UP. Four coaches (S1 to S4) were badly damaged. While rescue operations swung into action, more than 120 passengers have died, so far
  • Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered a probe into the accident and announced an ex-gratia payment for the dead and injured

Why are the IR having so many accidents?
The Kanpur tragedy has put the focus on railways neglect for maintaining and upgrading tracks. In the last three years, 50% of rail accidents, in India have been because of derailments

What are the key challenges for IR?

  • IR is the largest public sector enterprise, in India. Globally, it is the 4th largest by freight and 2nd largest by passenger traffic
  • 70% of IR revenue comes from freight, whose profit is used to cross-subsidize losses from passenger traffic. This is the key-challenge for the railways. Due to political considerations, successive governments have resisted raising passenger fares, resulting in inadequate resources for safety, infrastructure and expansion.

The government should hand over established profitable sections of the IR, to the private sector, while continuing to maintain development agenda, in relatively unprofitable areas.

Sources: Share your Essays, Times of India, sources