The Ministry of Railways has informed that there have been zero passenger fatalities in the consequential train accidents over Indian Railways during the last two years i.e. 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Furthermore, during the last five years, 2016-17 to 2020-21, the number of consequential train accidents has shown a continuous decreasing trend. In 2016-17, the number of the accident was 104 which significantly declined to 22 in 2020-21.
Consequential train accidents include mishaps that have serious repercussions in terms of loss of human life or injury, damage to railway property, or interruption to rail traffic of laid down threshold levels and values. These consequential train accidents can be collisions, derailments, fire or explosion in trains, road vehicles colliding with trains at level crossings, or certain specified types of miscellaneous train mishaps.
These accidents may be caused due to the failure of railway staff or persons other than railway staffs, equipment, happening of a combination of factors, or happening of incidental causes such as sinkage of tracks due to an act of nature, or cattle accident on the track, etc. In 2004-05, 119 consequential train accidents happened due to the failure of railway staff and 78 due to the failure of persons other than railway staff.
Decline in passenger fatalities in last 5 years
In the last five years, there has been a continuous decline in the number of passenger fatalities in consequential train accidents. In 2016-17, there were 104 consequential train accidents and 195 passengers met a fatal end. This number declined to 73 accidents and 28 passenger deaths in 2017-18.
The decline can be attributed to the safety measures and steps taken by the Ministry. In 2018-19, there were 59 consequential train accidents and 16 passenger fatalities. However, of the total 77 (55 in 2019-20 and 22 in 2020-21) consequential train accidents in the last two years, there has been zero passenger death.
Steps taken to minimize train accidents & passenger fatalities
In order to reduce the number of passengers dying through train accidents, the Indian Railways has prioritized safety measures. It introduced the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) in 2017-18 for the replacement/ renewal or up-gradation of critical safety assets, with a corpus of Rs. 1 lakh crore for five years, having an annual outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore. The fund takes care of various safety measures such as work-related to tracks, rehabilitation of bridges, replacement of overaged traction distribution assets, train collision avoidance system etc.
Technological upgradation: The Indian Railways has already adopted the technological up-gradation in safety aspects of coaches and wagons by introducing modified centre buffer couplers, bogie mounted air brake system (BMBS), improved suspension design, and provision of automatic fire and smoke detection system in coaches. These modifications are also being provided in newly manufactured coaches and wagons on a regular basis.
Fog is also one of the reasons of train accidents. A GPS-based fog pass device has been provided to loco pilots in fog-affected areas which enables loco pilots to know the exact distance of the approaching landmarks like signals, level crossing gates, etc.
Track safety: To improve safety, modern track structure consisting of prestressed concrete sleeper (PSC), 60 KG, 90 or higher ultimate tensile strength (UTS) rails, fan-shaped layout turnout on PSC sleepers, steel channel sleepers on girder bridges are being used while carrying out primary track renewals.
Further, long rail panels of 260 M/130M length are being manufactured at the steel plant to minimize the number of Alumino Thermit joints in the track. Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) testing of rails is also done to detect flaws and ensure timely removal of defective rails.
The Railways is also carrying out track maintenance activities to reduce human errors. A track management system has been introduced on Indian Railways for the development of database and decision support systems.
In addition to these, the Indian Railways has introduced an electronic interlocking system, train protection and warning system, and train collision avoidance system (TCAS).
Further, every consequential train accident on Indian Railways (IR) is inquired into either by the Commission of Railways Safety under the Ministry of Civil Aviation or by Departmental Enquiry Committee to analyze for the identification of the role of operational issues and other factors in train accidents. Through these inquiries, causes and solution of train accidents is met which further helps in reducing fatal accidents and consequent life loss and damage of property.