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Odisha train accident: Why do train derails in India


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India on Friday (June 03, 2023) witnessed the deadliest train accident in the history of the country. The accident took place near Odisha’s Bahanaga Bazar railway station. Over 280 people have lost their lives in the horrific crash injuring more around 1100 passengers.

However, within a duration of 51 hours, the railways has successfully normalised the service on one of the busiest sections of its network – Howrah-Chennai rail route. The route is of much importance due to the locations of industrial centres in the region.

Train accidents/derailments are not common in the country. This has raised several questions regarding rail travel, which is being dubbed as the lifeline of India. In the aftermath of the accident, the pertinent question is now doing the rounds: (a) What are the causes behind such a heart-wrenching train accident? 

A look at the detailed report:-

  • Shortage of employees:- There is a huge shortage of manpower in the Indian Railways. Once it was considered to be the largest employer in the country. However, due to lack of new recruitment, several posts are lying vacant after retirements. In the last few years, the railways have abolished more than 90,000 posts. 
  • Lack of maintenance:- The lack of proper maintenance of tracks, and existing infrastructure could also be the reason behind the derailment/accidents of trains in India. Few departments such as Permanent way (P-Way), Signal, Traffic, Operations etc are responsible for the smooth operations of the rail traffic. However, due to shortage of employees in these departments, the work gets overloaded.
  • Trespassing:- Few accidents also occurred due to trespassing activities. This might be the movement of animals, human beings, vehicles over the track. On August 13, 1998, the Chennai-Madurai Express collided with a bus at an unmanned level-crossing near Andhra Pradesh’s Bottalaapalem village.
  • Natural causes:- Rail accidents also occurred due to natural causes such as landslides, floods, snowfall, cyclones etc. In 1964, the Pamban–Dhanuskodi passenger train was washed away by the cyclone near Tamil Nadu’s Rameshwaram. More than 126 passengers lost their lives on board.
  • Collision between two trains:- This is often observed that the train collides with each other on the same track. About 35 people were killed when two passenger trains collided with each other near Umeshnagar on January 04, 1961. Over 280 passengers were killed when the Brahmaputra Mail collided into the stationary Avadh Assam Express at Katihar Division’s Gaisal station on August 02, 1999.
  • Faulty signals:- The faulty signals led to a few train accidents. One such example is the collision of Goa Express with the rear carriage of the stationary Mewar Express outside Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura on October 20, 2009.
  • Over speeding:- The train accidents also occurred due to its excessive speed. One such example is the derailment of Bundelkhand Express on October 03, 2005 near Datia.

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