Indian Railways has recorded zero passenger deaths in rail accidents in 2019, making it the national transporter’s safest year in history, according to official data.
While railways witnessed staff deaths during the last year, there were no passenger deaths in the last 12 months, the data revealed.
In 2018-19, railways recorded 16 death, 28 deaths in 2017-2018 and 195 deaths during 2016-2017.
While between 1990-1995, an average of more than 500 accidents took place every year, with around 2,400 deaths and 4,300 injured in those five years, a decade later between 2013-2018, an average of around 110 accidents took place every year which killed around 990 people and injured about 1,500 people, according to data available.
Railway train accidents (consequential) includes collision, derailment, fire, level crossing accidents and other miscellaneous accidents.
While calculating the casualty due to a train accident, the number of persons killed are taken into account. The casualty is further categorised into death of railway passenger, railway staff and others.
Railway does not count run over deaths as deaths in railway accidents. Railways has steadily improved its accident figures. While in 2017-2018, till March, there were 73 accidents, the first time the railways achieved a two digit figure, the figure between April and December 15 in 2018 was 45.
In 2014-15 there were 50 accidents at unmanned level crossings, in 2015-16 it was, 20 in 2016-17, 10 in 2017-18, three in 2018-19 – 3 and zero in 2019-20.
The number of injured in these accidents have also come down over the years. In 2016-17, 365 people were injured in various train accidents including the derailment of 15 coaches of the Ajmer-Sealdah Express on December 28, 2016, in which 44 were injured.
This was also the year when the Hirakhand Express derailed injuring 68.
In 2017-18, 195 people were injured, with a major accident in Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh where 97 people were injured and 23 were killed when the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed. In 2018-2019, 106 were injured.
It was also during this period that 59 people were killed and about 100 were injured when a train ran into a crowd of spectators who were standing on the tracks watching the Dusshera festival in Amritsar.
Railways, however, maintained that this incident did not come under the umbrella of train accidents as the spectators were “encroaching”.
In 2019-20, there were no accidents involving passenger trains, but some derailments of goods trains have occurred so far. While 33 passengers were injured in the past 12 months, except the deaths of a few employees, no passenger deaths were reported.
Some of the rail accidents that occurred this year included the derailment of 11 coaches of the Seemanchal Express, the derailment of the Chhapra-Surat Tapti Ganga Express, fire in the Hyderabad Deccan-New Delhi Telangana Express Pantry Car and an accident involving two trains which collided with each other in Telangana in which 16 passengers were injured and motorman was killed.
Railways said they had been able to achieve zero deaths on tracks in 2019 because of a slew of measures that have been undertaken over the last year. This included mega blocks for maintenance, use of modern machines in maintenance, removal of all unmanned level crossings, replacement of ICF coaches with LHB coaches track renewal and signalling modernisation and more delegation of power to field level officers.