The Odisha triple train crash is being seen as one of India’s biggest rail tragedies, but there have been fewer railway accidents due to derailments in recent years. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 17,993 cases of railway accidents were reported in 2021. Although it is showing an increase of 38.2% in railway accident cases over 2020 with a total of 13,018 cases, only 0.10% of cases happened due to derailments.
The analysis of the classification of railway accidents revealed that incidents of ‘Fall from Trains or Collision with People at Track’ constituted the majority of such mishaps at 67% with 12,181 death cases out of a total of 17,993. While deaths due to fire accidents in trains were 32.20% with 5,287 cases, collisions 0.5% with 86 cases, and derailments (the main cause of the accident in Balasore recently) 0.10 % with 22 cases only. Also, a total of 118 cases of railway accidents occurred due to the fault of the drivers during 2021 and the remaining are other causes.
NCRB records show such incidents accounted for 70% of railway accident deaths between 2017 and 21. They registered a big increase of around 38.2% in accidents in 2021 compared to the previous years. The 17,993 railway accidents caused injuries to 1,852 people and caused the deaths of 16,431 people.
As per data from the states and Union Territories (UT), most accidents were reported from Maharashtra at 19.4% and 3,488 such cases. The state had the highest number, 957, of the total 1,852 people injured in such cases in 2021. Out of the total, Maharashtra recorded 2,535 fatalities, while West Bengal reported 2,282 in 2021.
Maharashtra reported the majority of cases, accounting for 27% with 3,285 out of the total 12,181 cases of ‘fall from train’ or ‘collision of trains with people on tracks’. West Bengal contributed a total of 2,425 cases, accounting for 13.5%.
Looking at railway crossing accidents, Uttar Pradesh accounted for 37.1% with 575 cases out of the total 1,550, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 12.6% with 196 cases, and West Bengal at 10.6% with 164 cases. Among the highest fatalities in railway crossing accidents, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar reported 48.4% (875 out of 1,807 deaths), 10.8% (196 deaths), and 9.0% (163 deaths), respectively during 2021.