The Railway ministry has removed 13 employees from service for dereliction of duty that allegedly led to the derailment of the Kalinga Utkal Express near Khatauli town, 40 km off Muzaffarnagar on August 19. As many as 23 people died and over 150 were injured in the mishap that forced railway minister Suresh Prabhu to offer his resignation which Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not accept.
Barely four days later , Railways faced another embarssment when five coaches of Kaifiyat Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district on August 22. Over seventy people were injured with no casualties. On August 29, nine coaches of Nagpur bound Duronto Express derailed near Asangaon. Had it not been the alacrity of thetrain’s driver, it could have turned into a major accident. The driver, according to Times of India, hit the brakes upon realising that the track ahead was damaged, and by the time the train had reached the defective spot, its speed had been considerably reduced and none got injured.
The Railways has witnessed 348 accidents under Suresh Prabhu since the time he took charge as rail minister. There have been at least 28 major accidents. Altogether, 277 people have been killed in those accidents. While the number of accidents have gone down over the last few years, the number still remains above 100.
Even as safety remains one of the biggest concerns of railway ministry, Prabhu is yet to implement most of the Anil Kakodkar Committee report on railway safety.
The Committee has suggested fast track replacement of current rakes with the mores secure and advanced LHB coaches. The report was submitted before the NDA came to power but it didn’t draw complete attention from the government.
Moreover, Prabhu had proposed redevelopment of 400 stations under PPP mode. However, The PPP project has moved at the slower pace as compared to its other projects. Till May, contracts for only two stations had been cleared.