Spurt in accidents ahead of Rail Budget worries Railway Board officials

New Delhi:  With the Railway budget a few weeks away, the spurt in accidents in the past few days has officials in the Rail Bhavan worried. These incidents have not grabbed much public attention thanks to low casualties, but no fewer than 10 lives including those of railway staff members were lost in collision, derailment, accidents at unmanned level-crossings and due to power failure.In the past seven days alone, the Railways reported eight incidents, which marred their safety track record for January. There were three derailments, four accidents at unmanned level-crossings (that claimed seven lives) and a collision with a push trolley in which two staff members died while four others were injured.

The number of accidents increased even after Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge pulled up officers for laxity in executing projects and ensuring passenger safety during a Railway Board meeting attended by all zonal general managers. The Minister took the officials to task in the aftermath of two infernos on the rail that claimed 35 lives.

With a goods train jumping the rails earlier in the day, the number of accidents in January has gone up to 16, fourteen of them involving passenger trains, up from 11 in the corresponding period last year. The cumulative figure for April-January 2013-14 is 103 — the same number of accidents reported in the corresponding period in 2012-13.

In a bizarre incident, 12133 Mumbai-Mangalore Express not only passed the Savarda station on Paper Line Clearance ticket because the Block Instrument failed and then the driver passed the home signal, approaching Aravali in a “blanked out” condition. The signal at the station was not working due to power failure and the driver’s visibility was impaired by fog.

The driver and his assistant were relieved at Aravali for inquiry and medical examination.