New Delhi, Dec 28: The railways on Wednesday admitted that derailment cases have shown a "slight increase" since April this year as compared to the corresponding period in 2015 while noting that steps are being taken to strengthen rail infrastructure to achieve zero accident target.
"We have been able to reduce the number of accidents at unmanned level crossings though there is a slight increase in the derailment cases this year," Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed said.
The railways witnessed two derailment cases in two months near Kanpur. While the November derailment claimed 150 lives, today's incident involving Ajmer-Sealdah Express caused injuries to more than 50 passengers with no report of casualty. According to railways data, there have been 67 derailment cases this year since April while it was 52 in the corresponding period last year.
Asked whether safety upgradation drive has been hit due to the absence of a special safety fund, Jamshed replied in the negative and said strengthening of rail infrastructure has been budgeted adequately.
"Rs 7,500 crore has been allocated in the Rail Budget for track renewal and strengthening of bridges. But there is a need for a separate rail safety fund," he said.
On the possible reasons for Wednesday's derailment, he said it will be known only after the inquiry report. On whether rail fracture is a possible reason, he said there could be many reasons including rail fracture but it will be known only after the inquiry.
"We are closely examining these derailment cases and taking steps to prevent such incidents in future," he said.
Railway Commissioner for Safety, Northern Region, has been asked to probe the derailment of Ajmer-Sealdah Express this morning. Senior officials including Railway Board Member (Engineering) A K Mital and Member (Rolling Stock) Ravindra Gupta, alongwith other officials, have gone to the accident site to have a first-hand knowledge about the mishap.
Jamshed said the total number of accident cases has come down in comparison to previous years though the railways' plan of action is to achieve zero accident target. The total number of accidents was 137 three years back which has come down to 87 this year, he said. Jamshed said normalcy in the affected section will be completely restored by Thursday night.