The Indian railways we see today is a victim of more than a century old infrastructure. The Britishers built it to serve their own purpose and decades after their departure it still is thriving on the same network. Probably, it is the reason for rising train accidents and loss of lives. The Indian Railway at glance is crying tears for long-awaited reform.
More than 150 lives were lost in the Patna-Indore Express accident in 2016 and the very same year after a month later another mishap involved Ajmer-Sealdah Express in which 2 people died. Hirakhand Express on its route to Odisha derailed in Andhra Pradesh causing the death of 39 people. Three consecutive derailment in three month shows the lack of regards for public safety.
The accidents could’ve been avoided had they implemented better technology for the safety of its passengers. If sources are to believe, a contract to install automatic block signaling devices has already been awarded two years back but no steps were taken to fulfill it. The flaw detection devices Indian Railways has are only capable of detecting rail fractures using vertical verification but not horizontal. The new tech machines which can detect both, the plans to buy those are resting cold feet. The reason could be the financial crunch railways has been facing since long that is why Ministry of Railway has proposed Rs.1,01,700 for safety update which the ministry of Finance later denied approving such big amount and asked to raise the 70% of funds through tickets and other means while finance ministry will provide the remaining 30%.
India has witnessed 240 rail accidents in past 12 years out of that 209 mishaps were caused due to the derailment, causing death to thousands. Our leaders dream of bullet train running through the veins of our country and here they couldn’t even update the much-needed system. Trains, which is the most used medium of travel is on its verge of collapsing. According to a report, more than 1.42lakhs posts are vacant for safety staff in Indian Railway, enough to tell how concerned the railway ministry is towards its very passengers.
This country houses more than 8,000 railway stations employing more than a million people. The railway stations themselves are in a state of sorry. Poor infrastructure and lacking basic amenities like toilets, water supply and electricity are amongst various other the passenger face in their daily lives. The traveler has to cross the railway tracks in order to reach other platforms as there are no overpass or escalators, which are lying dysfunctional. The situation gets worse when disabled and old age people who couldn’t climb stairs are left with no other choice but to do it forcefully. Some of the stations that are fully developed are unable to maintain hygiene.
In 2015, for the 12th five-year plan, Indian Railways undertook 14, 000 crore worth 20 projects and as a part of the joint venture, 7 Public-Private partnership (PPP) projects estimating 5693 crores were also given for development and better services to the public. The system only saw a stagnant growth not fast enough for the rising burden. Although Mr. Suresh Prabhu did bring some change in the ticket booking system providing new app and web portals and allowing third parties such as PayTm or Mobikwik to let user reserve seats. The efforts regarding traveling experience haven’t improved much. The food quality remains poor and often it is seen in the news. However, there are services by private vendors which allow you to order food online during your journey.
Travel hygiene of train coaches are yet to improve and at present seem to be limited to premium trains only. An unfair transition for all type travelers. With players like Japan, China, and Russia, India plans to upgrade its transportation system using their tech and investment. India will need to pick up it’s development speed if it intends to lessen the life casualties. With the monopoly in train industries and a better-devised plan with immediate execution can work wonder for the division.