@Evening: πŸš† UPA Or NDA, Who Has Done Rail Safety Better?

@Evening: πŸš† UPA Or NDA, Who Has Done Rail Safety Better?

by Karan Kamble - Monday, June 5, 2023 08:40 PM IST

🚨 Latest tragedy raises questions

An Indian Railways train (Representative Image)
An Indian Railways train (Representative Image)

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 β€” 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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