India's ageing rail system among world's deadliest

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Someoneforyou, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

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    India's ageing rail system among world's deadliest
    India - 12 July 2011

    Indian train drivers complain of exhausting working hours and a lack of basic safety equipment -- some of the numerous hazards facing one of the busiest and most deadly rail networks in the world.

    At the weekend, two separate crashes left 69 dead and about 200 injured after a derailment in northern Uttar Pradesh state and a bomb explosion on tracks in the restive northeastern state of Assam.

    While new shiny airport infrastructure is springing up across the country, the Indian railways -- a much romanticised legacy of British colonial rule -- often appear stuck in a time-warp.

    After decades of under-investment, the rolling stock is old, speeds are low, signalling is done manually in some areas, and a lack of fencing makes the network a soft target for militants.

    Drivers say they are unfairly blamed for the frequent accidents, while the politicians in charge dodge their responsibility to the 18 million people that use the network daily.

    K. Parthasarthy, a train driver and trade unionist in the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA), told AFP he regularly drives for 13-14 hours non-stop.

    "It's exhausting, especially on a fast train with frequent signal stops," he said. "If I feel sleepy even for a few seconds, it can cause a terrible accident."

    One of the features lacking on the majority of long-distance trains is the so-called "dead man's handle," a switch that the driver must press at all times, he says.

    If the driver falls asleep or suffers a heart attack, for example, his or her finger slips from the switch and the brakes are automatically applied.

    Most of the creaking system, the world's second-largest under a single management, also lacks anti-collision devices and a powerful independent regulator to monitor operations, observers say.

    "When accidents happen, everyone immediately blames the driver," Parthasarthy said. "Instead of going after the individual, they should take a look at the whole system."

    Railways expert G. Raghuram, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in the western city of Ahmedabad, told AFP that the government needed to buy modern safety equipment and upgrade the signalling system.

    "The government has been dithering about anti-collision devices, wondering when they should get it, from which supplier, and so on, when they really just need to get on with it," he said.

    The last railways minister, the arch-populist Mamata Banerjee, announced in February a 40 percent hike in the annual railway budget to 576 billion rupees ($12.9 billion).

    But critics say successive budget hikes have failed to improve safety records, as only a miniscule amount is spent on upgrading key areas like signalling and track maintenance.

    Indian Railways has an engorged payroll and is financially inefficient with operating costs, including salaries, accounting for more than 90 percent of revenue.

    The National Crime Records Bureau, which tracks the causes of fatalities across India, says that 25,705 people died on the railways in 2009.

    The data is not broken down, but a vast majority of these deaths are people falling from the open doors of carriages or being hit on the tracks, which are mostly unsecured.

    The lack of fencing and transport police make some lines vulnerable to attacks from the numerous rebel groups fighting the government from their hide-outs in forests and other remote areas.

    The incident in the northeastern state of Assam on Sunday saw a bomb planted on the tracks by a suspected separatist group.

    The Delhi-Kolkata route -- on which Sunday's accident in Uttar Pradesh occurred -- was targeted in May 2010 by Maoist rebels, who derailed a high-speed passenger train claiming 151 lives.

    I.M.S. Rana, a former chairman of the Indian Railway Board which runs the network, said the number of trains plying the 64,015 kilometres (39,777 miles) of national track should be reduced.

    "We need a policy that should put a restriction on the number of trains and also be strict about overloading. There is not much time for maintenance," Rana told AFP.

    But this would put further pressure on India's overstretched road network and exacerbate transportation bottlenecks that are already crimping the country's economic growth.

    In an editorial Monday, the Indian Express newspaper said the root of many of the problems was a political tradition of successive coalition governments awarding the railway ministry portfolio as a sop to important allies.

    "This practice should be ended immediately and the ministry given to a responsible individual," it said.



    Source: AFP
     
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  3. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    its true reasons are

    1-Very big rail network
    2Corruption
    3- Focus on profit rather than service, technology and quality
    4-Red tapism

    :rolleyes::rolleyes:
     
  4. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    The problem is poppulism and the free hand successive Railway Ministers have been given over the years. The Rail Budget is always an exercise of announcing new trains and reduction in tariff. Nobody has questioned the money allocated to safety and whether it has been spent or not.
    The most high handed treatment was under Lalu when there was a surcharge on Rail tickets for safety and the money was used to bolster the financial health of the Railways.
     
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  5. Dinku

    Dinku Regular Member

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    Railway accident many kill I hear.

    Sad.

    Minister not go.

    Bad.

    Maintenance must. Hear problem lock system.

    Too danger travel train.
     
  6. Rahul92

    Rahul92 Senior Member Senior Member

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    The most complex rail system in entire world
     
  7. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Yaar tu jo bhi ha drame baaj ha. I mean u r doing it deliberately
     
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  8. Param

    Param Senior Member Senior Member

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    Exactly my thoughts.
     
  9. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    I think this matter is another shining example of the Indian establishment's (I don't mean any political party, they are pretty much the same when it comes to this) inability to do right by the infrastructural demands. I don't know much about rail technology or rail systems, but based on my limited readings it seems like this is a core structural issue in India.

    In addition to the much publicized problems such as politicization, corruption and favoritism there are also additional issues in bad policy. For one, despite having an expansive network there is very little utilization for the transportation of cargo. Since each government prefers to expend all resources upon the subsidization of passenger tickets (after all the majority of India's masses rely upon rail transport) for short term political gains and that leaves virtually no room for cargo transport.

    While there isn't a single passenger rail system I know that is profitable, cargo transport does generate a lot more revenue which can be used to offset the costs. However effective cargo transport is almost always linked to private enterprise and that is something the many quarters of the Indian government are always eager to prevent.

    However if there is a government bold enough to institute changes which involves greater investment into expanding the infrastructure to accommodate cargo transport they will have to deal with the outfall of increased fare prices. However in the long run it will enable the Indian rail system to realistically conduct the much needed modernization scheme and improve their currently pathetic safety record.
     
  10. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

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    This is bull shit the British and the West are simply pumping out bad news to slow our economy and ruin investor confidence.

    If USA or Britain had as many trains and passengers they will have the same problem.
     
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  11. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    We can't blame the western media for portraying a negative image of our country especially IR. As long as the ministry is used for populist reasons, safety and comfort have Never been on the priority list of the ministers.

    Revenue has never been a problem for the railways. With a rational tariff structure and amenities to go with it there is no reason for the railways to go on a loss.JRD Tatar had once said give me the management of the railways and he would earn enough from the freight movement to make the passengers travel practically for free.

    The need of the hour is to run the railways like a PSU and not like any Govt. Dept.
     
  12. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

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    Railway quadtrilater is over saturated. No much free track time even for routine track inspections. Tracks, sleepers, ballast etc have to be renewed periodically.

    More tracks are needed, but where will you get so much land?
     
  13. JAYRAM

    JAYRAM 2 STRIKE CORPS Senior Member

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    The corruptists and puppet politicians never modernise india, its railway.....India want now a new government, new leader that have truth, will power to modernize every india...

    We might had bullet trains if there was once a better government and leader...

    I think more ploy is going on in india and world to stop india being a super power...The explosions or blasts are a point of it...
     
  14. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    It is not that land is not available with the Railways.

    It is there, but has been encroached upon.

    Given the populist politics of the country, one will not reclaim the land encroached upon.

    There are many trains that have been introduced for populist reasons. These could be pruned to make the railways economically viable as also open up the spatiotemporal environment for track maintenance or change.

    The Railways have a special type of a train (rake) that runs over the rail and electronically checks the 'health' of the rails.

    The signalling equipment requires immediate attention.

    Lastly, accountability is Must. Once there is a train accident or a 'near miss', a fair enquiry held and all those up and down the echelon guilty of dereliction of duty should be dismissed, demoted, pay rank lowered and so on without fear.

    Training of Staff and refreshers should be done more diligently.

    Railway jobs should not be given to enhance one's or one's party's political clout.
     
  15. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Indian Railways

    For all the gents
    My two cents

    The iron rails
    Under pressure wails

    Us, Death dares
    Thanks to the sunken fares

    This vox populi plunder
    Is a sad and malignant blunder

    Fortuity after Fortuity
    Is the only certainty

    Just like the trail of tears, perhaps The Brook
    The Ministers, they come, they go, by hook or by crook

    The Caesar stands, eyes wide shut, sad but helpless
    For his throne shall fall, if places his cohorts under duress

    On and on goes the Iron Horse
    Trembling in Fear, yet daring Remorse

    With bleared visages, lingers the retinue of wayfarers
    Before Heaven knows, they shall meet their forefathers

    To Blood, To Flesh, To Bone and Metal Shard
    The epopoeia of Death, sings the bard

    - pardon my temerity
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
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  16. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

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    When the legitmate land of Railaways is ENCROACHED, what about fresh acquisition?

    Jo jamin sarkari hai, woh jamin hamari hai. WHO said it?
    Sorry. I was taught in college that HUMAN inspection is the final word. Please do not enter into techinicalities with me, whatever you you may be. If you are a civil or mech. engineeer, most welcome. That is called a pilot train, mostly goods train that runs half an hour before an important express train is to pass.
    Yeah.

    When the driver/pilot dies, he CANNOT defend himself. Fair enquiry? What is that? Like UC Bannerjee enquiry?


    Haha. Porters given job within railways. Morality?

    Why is Delhi Howrah route supersaturated? POPULISM. pal, populism. Did you protest that???? Did you, Ray Sir, ???
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  17. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    One of the news channel got info about what's going on in the railways just after the accident. There is a SHORTAGE of 90,000 technical people including drivers. Many of the different "boards" are headless. That in the largest single employer in the world. Wonder what the 1.5 million employees are doing. All these govt departments in pandering to their "social" causes breed incompetence. For one job there are 2-3 people just to fill up the quota to employ. It drains the company's finances not just now because of salaries, but future as well because of pensions. The whole bloody system is flawed.
     
  18. malluowl

    malluowl Regular Member

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    How stupid can you be. Typical right wing propaganda. You have done the same BS for 60+ years, When will you people realize the fact that corrupt politicians & bureaucrats coupled with a lackadaisical public has caused this sorry state of affairs.

    US & Britain definitely have much bigger public projects all over the country, and they do a much better job than India. Not just a better job, but a HUMANE one too, Something that India & Indians totally lack.
     
  19. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Problem #1 with Indian Railways is that it sees passenger services as a form of social service and not an enterprise. The moment that mentality changes, and the moment IR starts riding the market with ticket-prices, IR will be much better.

    Lalu Prasad Yadav wasn't a genius, he just gave a free hand to his officers, his expectations from the ministry were relatively low. Hence the railways prospered under him. With UPA-2, Congress pawned this ministry to the wrong party. Trinamool was a cash-starved party back in 2009, Mamta needed all the cash the ministry could bring for her West Bengal conquest.
     
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  20. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    /\/\/\ And look at irctc or the indian railways website. Transactional systems responding like tortoises. Yuck!

    Tarun, what you said is true. However, IR is the most preferred medium of transport for millions of Indians & services can be improved by imparting a professional business model. Ticket prices however should not become a burden, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2011
  21. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Without an entirely different business model, IR will collapse as a public-sector undertaking. IR is unable to keep up with its costs, it barely makes a profit to speak of, all the profit is used as "political toffees" (construction of new, often redundant or useless railway projects in states in which the ruling party has impending elections). Safety is more important than ticket prices, if public wants a safer railways, it has to pay for it. The government won't.
     

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