Rail Crash Raises Con­cerns Of Un­der­in­vest­ment As Toll Hits 142

Fiji Sun - - World News - Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

In­dian res­cuers on Mon­day called off a search of the man­gled car­riages of a de­railed train af­ter pulling more bod­ies from the wreck­age, tak­ing to at least 142 the num­ber of pas­sen­gers killed in the dis­as­ter. Last Sun­day’s de­rail­ment in the north­ern state of Ut­tar Pradesh was In­dia’s dead­li­est train tragedy since 2010 and has re­newed con­cern about poor safety on the state-run net­work, a life­line for mil­lions that has suf­fered from chronic un­der­in­vest­ment. Res­cue teams worked through the night with cranes and cut­ters to dis­en­tan­gle the train be­fore Po­lice halted the search of the 14 car­riages that de­railed in the early hours, while most pas­sen­gers slept. “The res­cue op­er­a­tions are over. We don’t ex­pect to find any more bod­ies,” said Zaki Ahmed, the Po­lice In­spec­tor Gen­eral in the city of Kan­pur, about 65 km (40 miles) from Pukhrayan, the crash site. The crash came dur­ing In­dia’s busy wed­ding sea­son and me­dia said blood-stained bags of saris and wed­ding cards car­ried by at least one wed­ding party on board were scat­tered be­side the wreck­age. The de­rail­ment in­jured more than 200 peo­ple, at least 58 of them se­ri­ously, of­fi­cials said, as rel­a­tives thronged hos­pi­tals in a search for sur­vivors. A rail­ways spokesper­son said the train car­ried 1000 peo­ple trav­el­ing on reser­va­tions, but 700 more were es­ti­mated to have squeezed into the un­re­served car­riages.

The largely colo­nial-era rail­way sys­tem, the world’s fourth largest, car­ries about 23 mil­lion peo­ple daily, but is sat­u­rated and aging badly. Av­er­age speeds top just 50 kph (30 mph) and train ac­ci­dents are com­mon. The crash is a stark re­minder of the ob­sta­cles fac­ing Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in de­liv­er­ing on his prom­ise to turn the rail­ways into a more ef­fi­cient, safer net­work be­fit­ting In­dia’s eco­nomic power. Mr Modi this year pledged record lev­els of in­vest­ment and has an­nounced a new high-speed line funded by Ja­pan, but the main net­work has made lit­tle progress on up­grad­ing tracks or sig­nal­ing equip­ment. He has also shied away from rais­ing highly sub­sidised fares that leave the rail­ways with next to noth­ing for in­vest­ment - by some an­a­lyst es­ti­mates, they need 20 tril­lion ru­pees (F$617.6 bil­lion) of in­vest­ment by 2020. Last Sun­day, Mr Modi held a po­lit­i­cal rally about 210 km from the crash site in Ut­tar Pradesh, which heads to the polls early next year in an elec­tion his Bharatiya Janata Party is vy­ing to win.

Res­cue work­ers search for sur­vivors at the site where the In­dore-Patna Ex­press train came off the tracks in the city of Kan­pur.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji

© PressReader. All rights reserved.