Make our trains safer

The Gorakhdham Express ramming into a stationary freight train at Churaid railway station in UP’s Sant Kabir Nagar district, which took 25 lives on the day of the momentous swearing-in of the Narendra Modi government, is an alarm bell for new railway minister D.V. Sadanand Gowda to take up the issue of railway safety on a war footing.

He has already listed safety, security and speed as his top priorities and reiterated that rail safety is a major concern. It would be churlish to say we have heard this assurance before, but it is perhaps only fair that we give Mr Gowda the 10 days he has sought to “come before the public to explain what is the road map” before him.  Mr Modi’s penchant for accountability from his ministers is legendary and one is sure that Mr Gowda will be tackling this problem in a holistic manner.
The initial reason for the accident is the possibility of a fractured rail track. The express train derailed and fell onto the goods train on the neighbouring track. Fractured rail tracks was also the reason given in earlier accidents in Maharashtra this year. One does not know whether the railways did anything about these tracks, which are crying out for maintenance because they are old and overused. 
The issue of governance in the railways is among the most neglected subjects despite having high-profile ministers. It is not a lack of funds but leadership and accountability that have been missing. This government has promised both.

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Kashmir’s history is dotted with natural calamities and man-made disasters. And over the centuries the people of Jammu and Kashmir have perfected the art of rising from the ashes. They have seen famines and epidemics, floods and earthquakes, blazes and mayhem, organised violence and massacres, forced and voluntary migrations, incarcerations and worse.