Railways staff bear the brunt in accidents

The number of Railways staff who dies on track while on duty far exceeds the casualties in rail accidents across the country.

Commuters hopping trains during rush hour at a suburban railway station in Mumbai. AFP

However, these deaths are largely unsung; even the department refrains from mentioning these incidents in the statistics.This has been brought out in the open by the High Level Safety Review Committee headed by nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar.

The committee has pointed out that the causalities on tracks due to trespassing of railway tracks, or for other reasons connected with railway infrastructures are also not included in such statistics.

The committee has reported that about 1,600 railway staff were killed and 8,700 injured while working during 2007-2008 to October 2011. In the same span, 1,019 deaths and 2,118 injuries in train accidents were recorded. The data analysed by the committee brings out that the engineering track department of the Railways is the greatest loser in terms lives lost. The department lost 1,100 personnel while on duty during the aforementioned time span.

The Mechanical department is next on the list of losers with 110 deaths, while 4,900 more were injured. The committee has recommended mechanisation of track and other maintenance “to reduce human presence in high risk areas of railway working.” The committee also said 723 lives were lost in accidents at unmanned level crossings.

The High Level Safety Review Committee has pointed out the failure of the Railways in providing proper education and training to its staff.

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