Patna Train Tragedy, a Sad Reminder about Poor Rail Infrastructure

Only recently, bullet train-fond Modi had done away with a separate Railway Budget

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi got to experience a Shinkansen bullet train travel during his recent visit to Japan.

On his return to New Delhi, he came up with a grandiose suggestion – that the Indian Railways should focus on “new speeds and new capacity while doing everything it can to gain financial strength.”

He was clearly influenced by railway corporations in Japan and China executing major high-speed rail projects worldwide and embracing great commercial successes.

Aping other countries is fine as long as he has a firm grip on ground realities. The E5 Shinkansen service, for instance, has been running with zero fatality since 2011.

The Patna train tragedy today, resulting in the loss of more than 100 lives, is a grim and sad reminder that the country’s tracks and infrastructure are struggling to keep pace with growth.

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Source: Express photo

He also tried to strike an emotional chord with the people by pointing out that the Railways had a special place in his heart as it was on train platforms he had in the past made a living, selling tea.

Is it out of that love that he and his government recently decided that the Railways would no longer have a separate budget? It had merged it with the General Budget that the Finance Minister presents. A separate railway budget was apparently thought to be a wasteful exercise.

So much for Mr Modi’s love for the Railways!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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