The Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has managed to set one of its best safety records during the Financial Year 2017-18, as claimed by an Indian Express report. As per the report, the Railways has for the first time managed less than a hundred accidents in a financial year.
Number wise FY 2017-18 saw 73 accidents which were 29% lower than the figure of 104 in 2016-17. Comparatively, FY 17-18 saw 39 derailments as opposed to 68 last year and eight unmanned crossing accidents as opposed to 15 in the previous year.
The railways have also set another new record in the form of transporting more than 1,160 million tonnes of freight in 2017-18, which is considered as the highest ever. In comparison, the total freight loading in 2016-17 was 1,109 million tonnes. As per the report, the total freight transportation has been on the rise for the last five years.
Historically going by a fact sheet [PDF] issued in the Lok Sabha, the railway accidents first came down to three figures in 1968-19 with 908 accidents. The accident figures then stayed in three figures since then except for 1980-82. As per the data, the figures have stayed below 200 since 2006-07 when the numbers were recorded to be 195. To put the railway safety in perspective, the Indian Railways had recorded a whopping 2,131 accidents back in 1960-61.
Even though the numbers of accidents might have been fewer in 2017-18, the image of the Indian Railways in terms of safety suffered a blow when erstwhile Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu resigned last August, following two back to back serious train accidents. These accidents included derailment of Kalinga Utkal Express which resulted in 22 deaths and injured 150 and derailment of Kaifiyat Express which injured over 70 persons.
These might also be some form of scepticism with regards to these latest figures, considering reports have alleged that Indian Railways might be misrepresenting data relating to punctuality, accidents and failure of assets.