@Evening: 🚆 UPA Or NDA, Who Has Done Rail Safety Better?
🚨 Latest tragedy raises questions
The devastating multi-train collision on 2 June in Odisha's Balasore district claimed 275 lives and left more than 1,000 injured.
Context: The rail accident has reignited the debate about who has done rail safety better — the Narendra Modi-led NDA (2014-23) or Manmohan Singh's UPA (2004-14).
The tragic incident Friday, described as one of the worst in recent times, has snowballed into a political slugfest, with demands for the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
The Indian Railways is one of the world's largest railways.
It acts as a vertically integrated organisation providing passenger and freight services.
It is a single system consisting of 67,956 route-km of track that traverses the country.
Over 21,650 trains ply the rail network carrying about 22.15 million passengers and hauling nearly 3.32 million tonnes of freight daily.
UPA Vs NDA. Let's compare accident statistics from 2004-05 to 2013-14 for the UPA and 2014-15 to 2022-23 for the NDA.
A total of 1,711 accidents took place during the UPA's term, as against 638 accidents when the BJP-led NDA took centre stage (from 2014 to March 2023).
While the UPA era saw the number of train accidents per million train kilometres fall from 0.29 in 2004-05 to 0.10 in 2013-14, it came down from 0.11 in 2014-15 to 0.037 in March 2023, during NDA rule.
Train accidents (consequential) include collision, derailment, fire, level-crossing accidents, and other miscellaneous accidents.
The number of accidents fell sharply by 49 per cent, from 234 in 2004-05 to 118 in 2013-14.
Similarly, during NDA rule, the number of accidents fell by a whopping 64 per cent, from 135 in 2014-15 to 48 in March 2023.
While 2,453 lives were lost and 4,486 injured in all train accidents in the UPA era, the NDA term witnessed 781 deaths and 1,543 injuries.
Train derailments formed the biggest chunk of all rail accidents for both governments, with 867 cases reported during UPA rule and 426 in the NDA term.
Summary. The BJP-led government has done convincingly better if a comparison is drawn on the basis of various data points.
However, they seem nearly even in the number of successes achieved during their rule.
The only caveat is that train operations were heavily curtailed in 2020-21 due to Covid-related travel restrictions.
Bottom line. Accidents lead to questions over the working procedures of the railways.
While both the coalition dispensations have managed to turn the tide and improve safety, much still needs to be done.
The latest tragedy should force the railways to do better, so that the loss of precious human lives is avoided.
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