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Why Train Accidents Occur in India

In the past two to three decades, technological advancement has reached its peak. Indian railways has also embraced all of the useful technology, from the integration of rail app to Kavach technology, to ensure the safest and easier train experience for rail passengers. But still, unfortunately, Indian railways have to face rail accidents resulting in the loss of human lives and resources. 


In this blog, we will discuss the circumstances due to which Indian railways accidents occur and the safety levels the technological integration provides to Indian trains. 



Reasons Behind Rail Accidents In India


According to NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), Major Indian rail accidents in India fall under 5 categories. 


  1. Derailments – It refers to rail accidents in which one or more train carriages go off the tracks due to track defects, mechanical failures, or human error.
  2. Collisions – When two or more trains collide with each other due to signalling errors, miscommunication, or other operational failures.
  3. Explosions/Fires – Indian railways accidents due to explosions or fires occur on trains or at railway stations because of factors like electrical faults, arson, or gas leaks.
  4. People Falling from Trains/Colliding with People on Tracks – It covers accidents involving individuals falling from moving trains or getting hit by trains while crossing or walking along railway tracks.
  5. Other Causes – Other causes may include those accidents that do not fall into the categories mentioned above. It can happen because of some unforeseen events like bridge collapses, landslides, or natural climate. This category also includes those accidents for which the reason is unknown. 


Top Technology Dedicated To the Safety of Indian Railways 


Indian Railways has introduced various technologies in trains and at railway stations to ensure the safety of rail passengers. Here are some of the leading train safety technologies of Indian Railways. 



LHB Coaches the Replacement ICF Coach


In 1999, LHB coaches were introduced to the Indian railways. It was first made by the German company Linke Hofmann Busch. The coach is equipped with new technologies that are more convenient and safer. LHB coaches replace ICF (Integral Coach Factory) coaches of Indian Railways. The coach is considered safer and can run at over 160 kmph speed.  


LHB coaches have an anti-telescopic safety design which means If a train crashes, the coaches behind it get separated from the coaches ahead of it so that the coaches behind it don’t get involved in the accident and get affected. 



Kavach to Ensure Zero Rail Accidents 


Kavach Automatic train protection system is a make-in-India safety system whose objective is to achieve zero train accidents in the country. It is designed by Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RSDO). According to Indian railways, it is the cheapest SIL-4 (Safety Integrity Level) system. Trains with this system have a 1 in 10,000 years chance of an error on this system. 


This system automatically breaks in two situations: If the train doesn’t stop at a red light or if the train is about to crash into another train. This system works only if it’s installed on both trains. Presently, the Kavach system is installed at high-density routes, including Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, and Guwahati. 



Block Proving Axle Counter in Indian Railways


Block Proving Axle Counter (BPAC) is a train detection system installed on trains, which automatically detects the crossing of a train between two points on the track. It doesn’t permit two trains to be within the same block section at the same time, which ensures the safety of trains. 


The Block Proving Axle Counter device consists of two sensors at each axle which helps it to detect the speed and direction of the trains. The information helps in accurate railway signalling, especially in electrified railways.  



Auxiliary Warning System in Trains


Auxiliary Warning System, also called Automatic Train Protection (ATP), is a control system that monitors a train’s speed and checks if the train is running at the permitted speed allowed by signalling. It is an advanced technology introduced by Indian railways in the 1980s. 


AWS follows three principles: 1) If the signal is red, the permitted speed is limited to 15 kmph 2) If the signal is yellow, the permitted speed is 38 km/h 3) If the signal is green or double yellow that means speed is 70 km/h. 



Self-Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing


Self-Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT) car is an advanced technology in Indian Railways that detects the internal flaws in rails. It analyses real-time defects twice a year on the busy routes New Delhi – Howrah, New Delhi – Mumbai Central, and Mathura Jn – Chennai. In one day, SPURT cars test 80-20 km of track. 


SPURT is equipped with ultrasonic testing technology. It is used in place of a USFD manual machine. Through which only 2 to 8 km of tracks get checked per day. The stretches that don’t get tested with a SPURT car get tested by a USFD manual machine. 



Rail Accidents After Leveraging Numerous Technology:

An Overview of Odisha Rail Tragedy 2023


It’s true that despite leveraging several artificial machines and devices for railway safety, Indian Railways continue to face rail accidents. Recently, the Odisha train tragedy has shaken the whole nation. On June 9th at 6:55 PM, at Bahanaga Bazar station, three trains – the Coromandel Express travelling at 128 km/h, a goods train loaded with iron ore, and the Howrah Express travelling at 126 km/h – collided with each other. The crash resulted in the loss of 275 lives and left 1000 injured.


The cause of the Odisha train tragedy is not yet clear. However, for some reason, the Coromandel Express, 12842 left its designated line and entered the loop track. Unfortunately, the goods train was already occupying the loop line, leading to a collision between these two trains. After the collision, the Coromandel Express derailed, throwing its bogies onto the adjacent down tracks. The Howrah Superfast Express, 12308, was crossing through the down track simultaneously, colliding with the two bogies of Coromandel Express.


The train accident is considered one of the deadliest accidents in India that even Kavach can’t safe. Although, none of the trains were equipped with Kavach technology. But experts say the train did not have enough time to stop after entering the loop track. LHB coaches have done their work and saved multiple lives by detaching themselves from affected coaches. 



Initiative of Indian Railways to Stop Train Accidents


Indian railways have taken multiple steps to stop rail accidents. The status of rail accidents in India is pretty good. From the available data for 2019, the rail accident rate per billion train kilometres in India was 0.5, Germany 0.45, and in France 0.25. The condition of train safety has increased in the country in recent years. And the reason behind this is the initiative of Indian Governments and Railways to ensure safety. 


  • Indian Railways has 9000 unmanned crossings on broad gauge. Indian Governments have eliminated those crossings or appointed staff to care for the people. 
  • Indian Railways is working on complete electrification. 
  • It equips itself with advanced technology like electronic interlocking systems, kavach, and ATP. 


Although, things are not completely perfect. Indian Railways needs to use its technology properly and offer more safety to railway passengers. The Indian railways are the lifeline of the country. People not only use this transport mode to go on trips but also travel by it to get treatments, visit hospitals, study in metro cities and more. 

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