We must give safety the inviolability it deserves
SummaryThe Balasore train accident should have us re-evaluate how much we prioritise safety, and reform as well as modernize India’s railways in ways that make it a zero-error operation
It is tragic that 288 lives have been lost and another 900-odd have been injured in the train crash involving three trains in Balasore, Odisha, the worst train accident India has seen in decades. The sequence of events preliminarily determined reveals that a goods train was diverted from the main track to a loop line—which are parallel tracks created to manage multiple-train traffic—to give way to the Coromandel Express. This passenger train subsequently received the green signal, but the tracks didn’t revert to the main line, resulting in it also getting diverted to the loop line and ramming the stationary goods train from behind. The high-speed impact caused coaches to be thrown around, landing on an oncoming track and crashing the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, which was moving at high speed. Images of mangled remains of passenger coaches perched atop the goods train speak of the violent impact. It’s unclear why this happened, though. Whether it was a technical failure that the tracks didn’t revert to the main line or human error will be determined in the full-scale official investigation that follows.