Expert: India's rail system overstretched, overstressed
27,581 people died in rail accidents in India 2014
Another deadly train derailment killed dozens in India on Saturday – the latest in a string of fatal accidents to strike the so-called “lifeline of a nation.”
At least 39 people were killed and 50 seriously injured after the train derailed in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, J P Mishra, chief public relations officer of East Coast Railway, told CNN.
He said a total of seven coaches left the tracks near Kuneru station.
“Besides the engine, the luggage van, two general coaches, two sleeper coaches, one AC three tier coach and an AC two tier coach derailed,” Mishra told CNN affiliate News 18. The cause was unknown.
The derailment comes only a few months after India’s deadliest rail accident since 2010 – a tragedy that once again pulled to the fore the issue of how the country’s vast rail network is funded and maintained.
Last November, at least 148 were killed in the early hours of Sunday morning when a packed train traveling from the central city of Indore to Patna in the north east went off the track.
“All of a sudden there was a massive jerk,” said one survivor, Ravindra Pathak at the time. “Our heads collided with the roof of the carriage.”
In the wake of the accident, former Indian rail minister Dinesh Trivedi told CNN the Indian railway system needs a “generation change.”
“The present system has outlived its utility,” Trivedi said.
Lifeline of a nation?
Often called “the lifeline of a nation,” India’s extensive rail network runs 12,000 trains a day and the full-length track could circle the globe over one and a half times.
It carries more than 23 million passengers daily, the equivalent to moving the entire population of Australia, and connects 8,000 stations across the subcontinent.
It’s also one of the oldest train networks – built roughly 163 years ago by the colonial British government – and is chronically underfunded. The system is often criticized for being inefficient, overburdened and unsafe.