In­dian rail­ways suf­fer­ing from in­ad­e­quate funds and ne­glect

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

t’s of­ten de­scribed as In­dia’s life­line, trans­port­ing 23 mil­lion peo­ple across the vast South Asian coun­try each day. In­dia’s rail net­work, the world’s third largest, op­er­ates more than 12,600 trains car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers and cargo along 115,000km of track. With more than 1.4 mil­lion em­ploy­ees, it is the coun­try’s largest em­ployer.

But not all is well with state-owned In­dian Rail­ways, as was high­lighted on Sun­day when 14 packed cars on a pas­sen­ger train skid­ded off the tracks in the north­ern state of Ut­tar Pradesh, killing at least 148 peo­ple, after two more vic­tims died of their in­juries on Tues­day.

For years, it’s been clear that the muchro­man­ti­cised legacy of Bri­tish colo­nial rule, built more than 160 years ago, is badly hob­bled by fund­ing short­falls, ag­ing tracks, out­dated sig­nalling and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems and a traf­fic vol­ume that has pushed these sys­tems be­yond their lim­its.

The deadly train tragedy, the cause of which is under in­ves­ti­ga­tion, has fo­cused at­ten­tion on how In­dia can re­store both ef­fi­ciency and public con­fi­dence in its rail­ways.

In­dia’s econ­omy has boomed in re­cent decades, and dozens of pri­vate air­lines have emerged to serve the grow­ing up­per mid­dle class. But for tens of mil­lions of In­di­ans liv­ing in the hin­ter­lands or un­able to af­ford air travel, trains are their trans­porta­tion life­line.

It can be a dan­ger­ous life­line. In­dia’s crime records bu­reau says that in 2014, the lat­est year for which fig­ures are avail­able, more than 25,000 peo­ple died in rail­way ac­ci­dents that ranged from trav­ellers falling from the roofs of mov­ing trains to train col­li­sions. In 2012, a gov­ern­ment safety com­mit­tee said about 15,000 peo­ple die ev­ery year try­ing to cross train tracks, which it re­ferred to as “a mas­sacre”.

On Sun­day, after the ac­ci­dent, Ut­tar Pradesh state Rail­way Min­is­ter Suresh Prabhu an­nounced an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and said any­one found guilty would be strictly pun­ished.

But blame should also fall on suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments and rail­way min­is­ters who have

HOR­RIFIC: 14 coaches of an overnight pas­sen­ger train rolled off the track in Ut­tar Pradesh state

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.