In last three years, around 29,000-30,000 people died due to trespassing and other untoward incidents on railway premises, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav has said on Thursday.
The deaths due to trespassing or untoward incidents at rail premises suggest about 10,000 deaths a year.
Responding to the government’s thinktank Niti Aayog’s queries on railways’ zero fatality data recorded in the last fiscal, the public transporter maintained that it does keep a record of all the deaths that have occurred on its premises under three separate heads — consequential accidents, trespassing and untoward incidents.
In a letter to Railway Board Chairman, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant had taken note of the Indian Railways’ claim of zero deaths in the current fiscal and only five deaths in 2019-20 and questioned the reliability of the data while pointing towards over thousand deaths in Mumbai suburban section every year.
In the quarterly review meeting of Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) in the last week of July, chaired by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, a presentation was made which highlighted the safety works undertaken as well as their impact on railway safety. “As per the data presented by the Indian Railways, there has been a noticeable improvement in railway safety,” Kant said in a letter to CRB Yadav after the meeting.
However, Kant pointed out in his letter to Yadav, “The presentation highlights a total of five deaths recorded in 2019-20 and zero deaths in the current fiscal years. Is this a realistic record? In the Mumbai suburban network over 2,000 people lose their lives every year. It was informed that these deaths are caused on accounts of trespassing and therefore not counted.”
“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that many of these deaths are caused by people falling overboard or from the platform on to the tracks. Hence, this should not be excluded from the purview of RRSK. It should be ideally recorded officially,” the CEO said in his letter.
Seeking concerted efforts to prevent deaths in the suburban service, the CEO requested for investment in the design of coaches on suburban networks such as Mumbai “which must have automated doors to prevent such occurrences.”
Railways, however, maintained that those Mumbai suburban accidents were in the category of untoward incidents and trespassing not consequential accidents.
“It is true that consequential accidents were indeed zero in 2019-2020 and so far this year as well. We keep records of deaths due to trespassing like when people come on the tracks and are run over or people standing on the footboard of trains or hanging out of trains. In the last three years, around 29,000 to 30,000 people have lost their lives due to either trespassing or untoward incidents,” said Yadav.
CRB further said steps are being taken to prevent trespassing and untoward incidents at rail premises.
According to railways, more than 8 billion passengers travelled by trains last year, but there were zero passenger fatalities due to accidents. This has been achieved with lots of effort on the part of Railways.
“While the deaths of passengers due railway accidents has become zero, unfortunate Casualties do occur due to trespassing and untoward incidents like falling from trains and that due to negligence or carelessness on the part of passengers/public. These are incidents on which Railways have little or no control. Efforts are on to sensitise the public on avoiding such situations,” railways said in a statement.