1.4 Lakh Posts Lying Vacant, Staff Crunched Indian Railways Sees 31 Train Derailments This Year
On October 10, the New Farakka Express derailed near Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. The accident killed at least seven people and injured 30. Probe indicated that the derailment happened because of the failure of a mechanical installation which guides trains from one track to another, as reported by NDTV.
This is not an isolated incident of a train derailment. In fact, in the first five months of this fiscal year, about 31 train derailments have occurred. This is a slight increase from last year’s 29 derailments for the same period, as reported by The Wire.
Even as the country moves towards introducing bullet trains, the fact remains that the national transporter, which sees more than 23 million passengers in a day, faces grave safety risks. One of the reasons for this can be attributed to the acute shortage of railway staff. Ironically, Indian Railways is widely credited as the employer of the largest number of people in the world.
As reported by Business Standard, as of now, more than 1.41 lakh posts in the Indian Railways lie vacant in the non-gazetted staff category. However, the Indian Railways have been coming out with notifications for filling vacant posts. This year itself, the Indian Railways look to fill about 1,20,000 vacancies. Earlier this year, two notifications were floated to fill up 89,409 vacancies, which included 26,502 vacancies of loco pilots and technicians and 62,907 vacancies of several level-1 posts, mostly in the safety category.
Train accidents and related deaths
Railways have claimed that even though the number of derailments has increased this year, the “consequential train accidents” have declined by 5.1% in this fiscal, as compared to last year.
Comparing the consequential train accidents in the UPA and NDA period has shown that before 2014, the rate was 171.1 per year, which has now come down to 101.3. In 2017-18, this number was below 100 for the first time.
Despite this, it may be noted that against the total earning target of Rs 90,903.91 crore, Indian Railways has been able to earn just Rs 834,25.49 crore for the current fiscal which ends in September. However, the expenditure has increased from target Rs 75,993.74 crore to Rs 79,151.83 crore.