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Killer trains: Why eight big railway accidents happened in the last five years in India

From faulty signalling systems to human error, these were the reasons behind the biggest tragedies involving the Indian Railways in recent times

Our Web Desk Published 17.06.24, 02:41 PM

At least four coaches of the Chandigarh-Dibrugarh Express derailed in the Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. Senior railway and local administration officials are at the spot to oversee rescue operations. Here is a quick look at major train accidents in India in recent years

Kanchanjunga Express collison

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A goods train rammed into the stationary Sealdah-bound Kanchanjunga Express near Rangapani, 30 km from the New Jalpaiguri station in Siliguri, on June 17. The train accident left 10 persons dead, including the loco pilot of the goods train. The Commissioner of Railway safety later said the Kanchanjunga express accident involving a goods train was 'waiting to happen' due to lapses at multiple levels in managing train operations in automatic signal zones, and 'inadequate counselling' of loco pilots and station masters.

Andhra Pradesh train collision

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On October 29, 2023, the Visakhapatnam-Palasa Express train hit the Rayagada Passenger train on the Howrah-Chennai main line in the Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh, resulting in 14 deaths and leaving around 50 injured. A preliminary probe by Indian Railways into the incident found that the Rayagada passenger train passed two defective auto signals, and held its driver and the assistant driver responsible for the crash. 

Madurai train fire

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A fire broke out in a coach of the Lucknow-Rameswaram train near Madurai station on August 26, 2023, killing at least nine passengers and injuring 20 others. The fire started around 5:15 am due to an illegally smuggled cooking gas cylinder used by passengers to prepare tea and snacks. The coach, which was part of a private tour starting from Lucknow, was to be attached to the Chennai-Kollam Anantapur Express to take pilgrims to Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. 

Mizoram railway bridge collapse

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The collapse of an under-construction railway bridge in Mizoram's Aizawl district on August 23, 2023, resulted in the deaths of at least 23 workers and injuries to several others. The incident occurred near the Sairang area, approximately 21 km from state capital Aizawl, when a gantry being launched on the bridge over the Kurung river collapsed. Around 35-40 workers were present at the site at the time of the accident. The majority of the victims were migrant workers from Malda district in West Bengal. The accident raised concerns about the safety protocols and infrastructure quality of the ongoing Bhairavi-Sairang New Railway Line project, which includes the construction of 130 bridges​ in northeast India.

Odisha triple train crash

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A triple-train collision in Odisha’s Balasore district marks the deadliest Indian train disaster of the 21st century, and the most devastating Indian Railways accident since the Firozabad train collision of 1995. On June 2, 2023, the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a goods train collided due to a malfunctioning signalling system that misdirected the Coromandel Express, according to a railways investigation. The train entered a loop track instead of the main line, crashing into a goods train; and three of its 21 derailed coaches collided with the incoming Bengaluru-Howrah Express. The crash killed 296 people and approximately 1,200 were reported as injured. 

Bikaner-Guwahati Express derailment 

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The Bikaner-Guwahati Express derailment occurred on January 13, 2022, near Domohoni in the Maynaguri block of Jalpaiguri district, West Bengal. The accident killed nine passengers and injured 36 others. The incident took place at around 5:30 pm soon after the train left the New Domohani station. Twelve coaches of the train were derailed, and some overturned, causing significant damage and disruption. The final safety report by the Commission of Railway Safety confirmed that the train had missed several routine inspections, and the irregular maintenance had led to the malfunctions causing the derailment.

Aurangabad railway accident

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On May 8, 2020, a group of migrant workers resting on the railway tracks near Karmad police station in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra was run over by a goods train. A total of 16 people were killed, one was injured. The labourers were on their way to Madhya Pradesh, travelling on foot from Maharashtra amid the coronavirus lockdown when the government had stopped train services. 

Seemanchal Express derailment

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The Seemanchal Express derailment occurred on February 3, 2019, in the Vaishali district of Bihar. The incident involved the Delhi-bound Jogbani-Anand Vihar Seemanchal Express, which derailed due to a rail fracture. The accident took place around 4 am, approximately 80 km from Patna​. The crash killed seven passengers and injured 29 others. The derailment affected 11 coaches, including one general coach, one AC coach, and several sleeper coaches.

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