The job of a Railway Minister is probably one of the toughest. He or she is questioned every time there is a train accident and in the past, there have been Railway Ministers who have resigned while accepting moral responsibility.
On Friday there was one more train accident that as reported from Chitrakoot when 13 bogies of the Vasco da Gama express derailed. The opposition was quick to blame the government.
In the midst of this debate, it would be only fair to put out some statistics to show that train accidents have indeed decreased over the past few years.
In the years 2014-15, the number of train accidents was 135. The subsequent year the number of accidents on the tracks came down to 107. In 2017 the number of train accidents stands at 104.
Under UPA-1 the average number of train accidents was at 207 a year. Under UPA-II it came down to 135. Under the current dispensation, it has further reduced to 115.
When one takes into account the number of fatalities, under UPA-I it was at 759. Under UPA-II it increased to 938. Under the current dispensation, the number of fatalities has reduced to 652.
Railway Ministry statistics show that accidents per million train kilometres, an important index of safety, have come down from 0.23 in 2006-2007 to 0.10 in 2015-2016 and further to 0.09 in the year 2016-2017 despite a quantum increase in the volume of traffic carried by Indian Railways over the years.
Safety measures, including speedy track renewal, ultrasonic rail detection system, elimination of several unmanned level crossings on priority basis, a special safety fund, along with sophisticated the Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches with anti-climbing features, have additionally helped make train travel safer.
Looking at the investments for safety, the spending has increased from Rs 33,972 a year during UPA-II to Rs 54,031 core per year under NDA. This is a jump of 60 percent when it comes to spending on safety.