The number of people killed or injured in train accidents in India fell by more than half in 2017-’18, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The number was the lowest in at least 18 years for which Indian Railways provided data to the agency.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, as many as 254 people were killed or injured in derailments or collisions. However, this was significantly lower than the number in 2016-’17, when 607 people died or suffered injuries.
The highest number of deaths and injuries in the last 18 years was 1,400 in 2002-’03, the data shows.
On March 31, The Indian Express reported that Indian Railways ended 2017-’18 with the “best safety record in decades”. The number of accidents was just 73 – in two digits for the first time in 35 years. There were 104 accidents in 2016-’17.
Indian Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said the institution needed to focus on its people, and safety is just an “end result”. Ensuring safety in a network of nearly 13 lakh employees and 22,000 daily trains is going to take time, he told Reuters.
“We need to focus on maintenance, and that also includes looking after the people,” Lohani was quoted as saying. “We have a tremendous inherent strength of our people...But I don’t have a magic wand.”
Lohani was appointed chairperson in August 2017 after two rail accidents within a week.
He said the Indian Railways was trying to make it easier for employees to approach top officials through WhatsApp so that their grievances were addressed immediately and human error was minimised. “It is essential that the focus on safety must not be lost,” Lohani reportedly said in a railways WhatsApp group. “We are a 24x7 organisation and must be alert all the times.”