A recent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has blamed the Indian Railways for not providing adequate train services, leading to overcrowding and death of passengers in suburban trains.
The report, released last week, noted that 33,445 people died between January 2010 and December 2014, with half the cases being reported from the Mumbai suburban train network. This translates into more than 18 deaths a day in suburban trains.
“A comparison of the average number of passengers carried per rake with its carrying capacity, indicated an average crush load of 2510 passengers per rake,” the CAG said of the Mumbai suburban trains.
Falls from trains
Crush load refers to a passenger density of twice the seating capacity of a rake, as per the Indian Railways. Around 15 per cent of the deaths happened due to passengers falling from running trains.
The CAG report said, most of the people who died by falling from running trains were travelling in Mumbai’s suburban trains, reflecting that “the number of services is not sufficient to cater to the needs of heavy passenger traffic.”
Further, the increase in average train services per day was lower in the Mumbai suburban zone than other railway zones. Most of the deaths (59 per cent) in the suburban train network happened while line crossing and trespassing.
There was also a “vast difference between number of deaths reported (by railway zones) in (the) Annual Statistical Statement of Indian Railways and the figures reported by the Government Railway Police (GRP).
For instance, in its annual statement, Eastern Railway reported 154 deaths during 2010-14 whereas the GRP reported 7,923 deaths during the period of 2010-13 in the two divisions of Sealdah and Howrah of the Eastern Railway itself.
“This shows a mismatch on reporting of deaths by Railway administration to the Railway Board concerning safety issues,” the report said.
In terms of on-time performance, except Southern Railway (Chennai, Madurai, Palghat, Trichy and Trivandrum) and Central Railway (Mumbai, Nagpur, Bhusawal, Pune and Sholapur), the punctuality target of suburban trains in other railway zones was met, the report stated.