In­dian train de­rails in­jur­ing 61; crash rais­ing con­cern

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A train de­railed in In­dia yes­ter­day in­jur­ing 61 peo­ple, po­lice and rail of­fi­cials said, the third sig­nif­i­cant ac­ci­dent in re­cent months that have raised con­cern about the safety of the age­ing rail net­work. The train came off the tracks and crashed near the north­ern city of Kanpur in Ut­tar Pradesh state early in the morn­ing.

“Our lat­est as­sess­ment is that 61 peo­ple got in­jured in the ac­ci­dent and two sus­tained griev­ous in­juries,” said Anil Ku­mar Saxena, spokesman for In­dian Rail­ways. The train had just pulled out of the sta­tion and its speed was “rather slow”, he said. Tele­vi­sion footage from the scene showed man­gled, top­pled car­riages. Two coaches had fallen off a bridge into a small canal while some pas­sen­gers were seen pick­ing up their lug­gage from near the tracks.

In­dia’s creak­ing rail­way sys­tem is the world’s fourth largest. It runs 11,000 trains a day, in­clud­ing 7,000 pas­sen­ger trains car­ry­ing more than 20 mil­lion peo­ple. But it has a poor safety record, with thou­sands of peo­ple dy­ing ev­ery year in de­rail­ments, col­li­sions and other ac­ci­dents. This was the third ac­ci­dent sig­nif­i­cant in re­cent months.

On Nov 20, at least 146 peo­ple were killed when a train de­railed near the same city. A train rammed into a van tak­ing chil­dren to school at a level cross­ing in north In­dia in July, killing eight of them. Rail­ways min­is­ter Suresh Prabhu has promised to re­place old tracks and up­grade safety sys­tems. The gov­ern­ment spends more than 90 per­cent of the rail­ways’ rev­enues on op­er­a­tional costs, leav­ing lit­tle for up­grades of the colo­nial-era sys­tem. Some an­a­lysts es­ti­mate the rail­ways need 20 tril­lion ru­pees ($293.21 bil­lion) of in­vest­ment by 2020, and In­dia is turn­ing to part­ner­ships with pri­vate com­pa­nies and seek­ing loans from other coun­tries to up­grade the net­work.

RURA: In­dian of­fi­cials and by­standers gather be­side the wreck­age of train car­riages.

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