Utkal Express mishap: Negligence, ground-level lapses caused 6 train derailments in 9 months
Thirteen coaches of Puri-Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express train went off-track as carriages slammed into each other at Khatauli near Muzzafarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh on Saturday evening, killing 23 and injuring 156 people. The railway officials announced a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh to the family of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured. A desperate search for survivors is underway. Though stern action has been taken against eight officials with immediate effect, the cause of the accident is yet to be ascertained. Four officials, including the senior divisional engineer, have also been suspended. Member (Engineering) Railway Board Aditya Kumar Mittal, General Manager of Northern Railway R N Kulshrestha and Divisional Railway Manager R N Singh have been sent on leave. For now, General Manager North Central Railway M C Chauhan will look after the duties of GM, Northern Railways, while Executive Director (Telecom Dev) Anshul Gupta will temporarily be posted as DRM Delhi.
Over the past few months, negligence, ground-level lapses and inadequate security have led to several mishaps and remain a major area of concern in the country despite technological advancements in every sector. This year witnessed a number of accidents on railway tracks, causing numerous deaths and injuries.
In mid of April, 10 people were injured when eight coaches of Meerut-Lucknow Rajya Rani Express derailed near Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. A total of 52 passengers were injured when Mahakaushal Express that runs between Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh and Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi derailed near Kulpahar station in Uttar Pradesh on March 30.
In February 2017, three passengers were reported to have been injured after two bogies of New Delhi-bound Kalindi Express derailed after colliding with a goods train coming from the opposite direction. In January 2017, 41 passengers died and 50 were injured when nine coaches of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district. Prior to this in November 2016, 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express had derailed at Pukhrayan, 60 km from Kanpur, resulting in at least 150 deaths. In December, Ajmer-Sealdah Express went off the track near Kanpur, injuring at least 50 passengers. Surprisingly, both the accidents were suspected to have happened due to fractures in tracks.
In 2014-2015, Indian Railways recorded 0.05 casualties per million passengers it carried, marking a rise of 0.02 over the year before. The cumulative toll is staggering: 27, 581 Indians died in railway accidents in 2014.