India investigates cause of one of the worst train accidents in history

DELHI — India’s prime minister was scheduled on Saturday to inaugurate a brand new high-speed train between Goa in southern India and the monetary capital, Mumbai, as half of a marketing campaign to modernize the nation’s rail community — one of the largest in the world.

But on Friday night time, a devastating three-train pileup in japanese India — one of the worst transportation disasters in the nation’s history — killed 275 individuals and injured about 1,000, forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cancel the ceremony. He visited the crash website and wounded sufferers at a close-by hospital as an alternative.

On Sunday, the authorities revised the dying toll from 288 to 275, after officers mentioned some victims have been counted twice.

India train crash rescue operation ends

The collision in India’s Odisha state, which threw passenger automobiles from the tracks, drew recent scrutiny of the security and viability of the Nineteenth-century rail community, first constructed by the British. The system, which snakes throughout the nation for greater than 67,000 miles, now handles roughly 22 million passengers every day, in line with authorities figures.

Railway officers mentioned Sunday that the investigation into the Odisha collision was ongoing — however that early experiences indicated issues with the railroad indicators that instruct or warn drivers to cease, decelerate or change to a different monitor.

“The preliminary report indicated some signaling fault, but I won’t comment on it until the report is submitted,” Jaya Varma Sinha, a member of the Railway Board, informed reporters in a briefing.

“It is supposed to be tamper-proof, error-proof,” she mentioned.

Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw additionally mentioned Sunday that the Railway Board really helpful a probe by the nation’s prime investigative company. In India’s history, two railway ministers have resigned instantly after train accidents with dying tolls much like that of the Odisha crash.

The tragedy unfolded Friday night when the Coromandel Express, which was ferrying passengers from Howrah to Chennai on India’s japanese coast, took the mistaken monitor and collided with a freight train close to the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore, a district in Odisha. Soon after that, the Superfast Express operating from Bangalore to Howrah crashed into the different two trains.

Modi, who faces a normal election subsequent yr, has guess huge on revamping India’s state-run railways. In current years, his authorities has renovated train stations, launched the Vande Bharat Express, the nation’s first homegrown rail service, and promised to launch India’s first bullet train by 2026.

But some specialists have warned that the emphasis on constructing quicker and extra fashionable trains may result in extra accidents if the rail community’s infrastructure isn’t upgraded or maintained at an identical tempo.

“Safety should be [the] top priority — not speed,” mentioned Prempal Sharma, a former member of the Railway Board, the government physique overseeing the railways.

Akhileshwar Sahay, a retired railways official who now works as a transportation guide, mentioned he hopes the accident shall be an “eye-opener” to the Railways Ministry. “This accident gives us many messages. The first message is to change the … machinery, change the manpower, change the management ethos,” he mentioned.

“The weakest link in the Indian Railways is the lack of safety orientation,” he mentioned. “India wants to be a developed nation. Then, this railway has to be fighting fit. There is no shortcut.”

Railroad accidents have decreased right here over time, with the two deadliest collisions occurring in the Nineties.

But in current years, derailments brought on most of the bigger train accidents, authorities experiences present. Between April 2017 and March 2021, train derailments have been liable for three-quarters of all main train accidents in India, in line with a government audit, which blamed a normal lack of monitor upkeep.

India train crash rescue operation ends

“To be fair, I do think we could spend more on safety,” mentioned G. Raghuram, a railway operations knowledgeable and former director of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, including that there’s fixed battle between the want to maintain trains operating for business acquire and the must cease companies for railway upkeep.

Raghuram mentioned that whereas new guards at railway crossings and new passenger automobiles have improved security, the authorities may mitigate passenger damage by altering the interiors of the automobiles and specializing in getting giant equipment to a crash website extra shortly.

At the website of the accident Sunday, derailed automobiles lay overturned as authorities raced to clear the tracks. Mangled our bodies coated in white sheets lay in rows in a room at a close-by college ready to be recovered by households.

“Perhaps there is a need to look at this event in a larger perspective,” mentioned a senior retired railways official who spoke on the situation of anonymity to talk freely. “Such large events make us rethink beyond the technical. Was there a failure or was there a larger thing we have to correct somewhere in the working of the system? Those are systemwide questions.”

Pankaj Kumar Jha, a 36-year-old resident of Jajpur in Odisha who was touring on one of the trains for work, managed to outlive with out damage. He recalled coming throughout movies about the authorities’s new anti-collision system on social media in the previous.

“Back then I just assumed the government must have implemented it on the routes of important trains like the Coromandel Express,” Jha recalled. “Only after my accident did I find out that it had not.”

Masih reported from Seoul.

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