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Accident free trains or bullet trains in India - Discuss


Trains over the years have become symbolism of journey of life and more aptly it is a part and parcel of our life. From the era of Steam engine to what we hear about Hyperloop there has been unbridled transformation in technology in Railways. But in-spite of such technological revolution, we still see many people dying every year in train accidents in our country. There comes the inquisitive question in the mind should we opt for such marvelous technology of Hyperloop and Bullet Trains or should we make our existing trains accidents free?

If anyone checks out the recent trends in our rail accidents, almost every month we can hear up the case of the derailment or accidents. This December itself we had derailment of Capital Express in West Bengal. Prior to this in November there was derailment of Kanpur Patna Express with around 130 people being killed and lot more injured and such stories continue. But paradox here is that in-spite of consistent accidents there had been no full stop to such incidents. Same old rhetoric continues where Executives declare the Ex-gratia amount to the kin and the chapter close until a new story comes into limelight. Is it not a time to think of making Train travel safer?

Recently there have been proposals for bullet trains along Mumbai-Ahmedabad worth thousands of crores. The catch here is in reality the Japanese bullet trains based on Shinkansen high speed technology are accident free. So should we really go for the bullet trains? Pragmatically looking Bullet trains are no solution to our agenda of accident free due to their inherent nature of huge investment they require. Though Bullet trains may considerably seem to advantageous over long run and may be a symbolism of development of nation, but what worth is such development where there is no foundation at all.

Railways are considered to be as lifeblood of our life, so primary emphasis should be given to upgrading of age old tracks to make them accidents free. And in any situation Bullet trains cannot replace our 90,803 km of track route. Trains serve the public, but bullet trains would serve only wealthy. So what good does Bullet trains serve our national interest?

Though Bullet train a technological marvel, that can save precious time, is not of importance for our current context. Rather certain measures are needed to be undertaken so that there comes a day we can see "Accident Free Trains". These include

  1. First and foremost, Railways should ensure low tooth to tail ration, by reducing the consumption on expenditure of staff and employees. This will provide in much needed investment on upgrading the age old tracks.
  2. Eliminate the populist agenda mongering over railways. Over the years, Railways has become the political tool where in crores of worth projects are announced just to gain political mileage.
  3. Make railways independent in determining the fares. Container tight control over the Railways has led to huge losses.
  4. Speedy setup of derailment detectors is very much essential. Along with it derailment detectors over the tracks is also another solution. Only few high end trains are fitted with such detectors. We should leverage our technological and software expertise along with Startup India, to get the best solution.

Though these solutions are way forward to solve existing crisis. But cannot be implemented unless there is a political will. Recently there have been good developments like having single budget ensuring railways need not pay the dividend. There is tremendous need for making "Trains Accident Free" without which we cannot think of Bullet trains.

- Raghuram Bachu