Blood on the Tracks: India’s Deadliest Train Accidents in the Last 15 Years
Written by Sanjay Kumar
A tragic rail accident involving the Coromandel Express and the SMVP-Howrah Superfast Express occurred on Friday night, June 2, resulting in the loss of at least 233 lives and over 900 injuries. This incident marks one of the most severe train accidents in India over the past decade. Multiple agencies are currently engaged in rescue operations to aid passengers trapped within the wreckage of the train coaches.
Here is a compilation of significant train accidents that have taken place within the last 15 years:
- Uttar Banga Express and Vananchal Express, 2010: On July 19, 2010, in Sainthia, West Bengal, the Uttar Banga Express and Vananchal Express collided with each other, resulting in the loss of approximately 63 lives and causing injuries to over 165 individuals.
- Jnaneswari Express, 2010: On May 28, 2010, between Khemashuli and Sardhia stations of the South Eastern Railway, several coaches of the Mumbai-bound Jnaneswari Express derailed, causing the tragic death of at least 148 passengers. A good train traveling in the opposite direction collided with the derailed coaches within minutes, leading to additional injuries for over 200 passengers. The incident was attributed to alleged Maoist sabotage of the tracks in West Bengal.
- Chhapra-Mathura Express, 2011: On July 7, 2011, near Etah district in Uttar Pradesh, the Chhapra-Mathura Express collided with a bus at an unmanned level crossing. The accident occurred at around 1:55 a.m., claiming the lives of 69 people and leaving many severely injured. The bus was dragged for a considerable distance as the train was running at a high speed.
- Hubli-Banglore Hampi Express, 2012: On May 23, 2012, the Hubli-Bangalore Hampi Express collided with a goods train in Andhra Pradesh. As a result, four coaches derailed, one of which caught fire, leading to the death of approximately 25 passengers and leaving several others charred. The incident caused injuries to 43 individuals.
- Tamil Nadu Express, 2012: On July 30, 2012, a coach of the Delhi-Chennai Tamil Nadu Express caught fire near Nellore, claiming the lives of more than 30 people.
- Gorakhdham Express, 2014: On May 26, 2014, in the Sant Kabir Nagar area of Uttar Pradesh, the Gorakhdham Express collided with a halted goods train near Khalilabad station. This collision resulted in the tragic loss of 25 lives and left over 50 individuals injured.
- Janata Express accident, 2015: On March 20, 2015, a significant accident occurred on the Janata Express traveling from Dehradun to Varanasi. Near Bachrawan Railway Station in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, the engine and two adjoining coaches of the train derailed, leading to the death of over 30 people and causing injuries to around 150 others.
- Patna-Indore Express, 2016: On November 20, 2016, the 19321 Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhrayan, Kanpur, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 150 lives and injuring more than 150 others.
- Kalinga-Utkal Express accident, 2017: On August 19, 2017, the Kalinga Utkal Express, operating between Haridwar and Puri, met with an accident near Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. The derailment of 14 coaches claimed the lives of 21 passengers, while 97 individuals sustained injuries.
- Kaifiyat Express, 2017: On August 23, 2017, nine coaches of the Delhi-bound Kaifiyat Express derailed near Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, causing injuries to at least 70 people. Fortunately, there were no reported fatalities in this particular train accident.
- Bikaner-Guwahati Express, 2022: On January 13, 2022, in Alipurdar, West Bengal, at least 12 coaches of the Bikaner-Guwahati Express derailed, resulting in the loss of 9 lives and causing injuries to 36 individuals.
In addition to these incidents, the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, one of Indian Railways’ premium trains, encountered a devastating accident in 2002. On September 10, 2002, at 10:40 p.m., near Rafiganj station in Bihar, 14 coaches of the 2301 Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express plunged into the Dhawa river, resulting in over 140 casualties.
Indian Railways has been diligently focusing on the safety of train passengers in recent years. Measures taken include track upgrades, the installation of a safety device called ‘kavach’ to prevent head-on collisions, and the elimination of all unmanned level crossings within its broad gauge network.
However, the recent rail accident involving the Coromandel Express and the SMVP-Howrah Superfast Express trains once again highlights concerns regarding track safety, despite the Indian Railways’ numerous efforts.
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