In the wake of the tragic train accident in Balasore, Odisha, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Sandeep Pathak, who is also a member of the Standing Committee on Railways, has held the Modi Government accountable for its failure to implement rail safety protocols. Dr. Pathak’s has highlighted the pressing need for the government to address the safety issues plaguing the railway system. As an active participant in the Standing Committee on Railways, Dr. Sandeep Pathak revealed that he had previously emphasised the importance of expediting the implementation of safety measures for trains. Despite his recommendations, the government has failed to prioritise the completion of safety-related works, thereby putting passengers’ lives at risk.
Dr. Pathak highlighted a significant shortfall in the installation of anti-collision and anti-derailment devices across the railway network. Shockingly, out of the 65,000 km network, only 1,400 km has been equipped with these crucial safety devices in the last nine years. This alarming statistic underscores the negligence on the part of the government in ensuring the safety of rail passengers. The current operation of the railways without comprehensive safety systems is an extremely perilous situation. Dr. Sandeep Pathak asserts that relying on mere PR tactics while neglecting the installation of essential safety equipment is a fatal approach that cannot be tolerated.
In a heartfelt video message, Dr Sandeep Pathak conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families and highlighted the urgent need for the government to prioritise the safety and security of railway passengers.
Addressing the pressing concerns surrounding rail safety in India, he highlighted the alarmingly low coverage of anti-collision devices, with coverage of merely 2% rail network and 0.2% of trains. He emphasised how imperative it is that essential safety devices such as anti-collision and anti-derailment systems be installed in all trains and the entire rail network be upgraded without delay. He noted, “Operating our railways without these safety mechanisms is akin to relying solely on faith, and it is not a path we can afford to tread. Modi Government’s focus being solely on PR and appearances will only lead our nation down a treacherous path.”
In the video, Dr. Sandeep Pathak expressed deep sorrow over the devastating train accident in Odisha, stating, “The tragic incident in Odisha has left my heart heavy with grief. My heartfelt condolences go out to the families who have lost their loved ones.” The Rajya Sabha member also expressed grave concern over the government’s neglect of security measures. He emphasised the urgent need for the government to prioritise safety and security, stating, “The current government’s agenda seems to lack any commitment to ensuring the safety and security of the people. As a member of the Railways Standing Committee constituted by the Rajya Sabha, I have consistently raised the issue of prioritizing safety and security in committee meetings. Rather than solely focusing on external displays and managing their reputation. It is imperative that the current government shifts its priorities to safeguard the lives of the people.”
Drawing attention to the grave shortcomings in the existing safety measures, Dr. Sandeep Pathak elaborated on several critical parameters that demand immediate action. He stated, “One of the most crucial aspects is the installation of anti-collision devices to play a pivotal role in preventing train collisions. Shockingly, out of the approximately 65,000 kilometres of the rail network in our country, PM Narendra Modi-led government has installed these devices on a mere 1400 kilometres, amounting to just 2% coverage. At this rate, it would take the current administration over 400 years to complete the installation of anti-collision devices across the entire network.”
Commenting on train safety, Dr. Sandeep Pathak revealed that only 65 out of approximately 23,000 trains in India have been equipped with anti-collision devices, amounting to less than 0.2% coverage. “This glaring inadequacy underscores a disconcerting lack of commitment to the security of rail passengers,” he said.
Addressing another critical railway safety measure, Dr. Sandeep Pathak highlighted that the Modi government, upon assuming office in 2014, pledged to install derailment detection devices across all rail networks. He stressed, “However, there is no comprehensive data or reports available detailing the extent of their implementation and progress made thus far.”
Pointing out the crucial long-standing issue of track upgradation, Dr. Sandeep Pathak noted, “The upgradation of railway tracks is pivotal to preventing train derailments. But, out of the extensive 65,000-kilometre track network, a mere 37,000 kilometres, i.e, just 50% of tracks have been upgraded.”
Dr. Sandeep Pathak concluded by asserting, “With only half of the tracks upgraded and anti-collision equipment installed on just 0.2% of trains, the Modi government’s claims of advanced signalling systems and comprehensive safety measures ring hollow. The lack of transparency and action in this regard is deeply concerning. Despite the sombre atmosphere of mourning, it is necessary that we pose these urgent questions to the government. It is vital that we hold the government accountable for its failure to address crucial safety concerns. We cannot afford to let such incidents recur in the future.”