India has unfortunately experienced several tragic train accidents throughout its history. While the severity and impact of these accidents vary, here are five notable train accidents that have had a significant loss of life:
- Bihar Train Disaster (1981)
- Gaisal Train Accident (1999)
- Khanna Train Accident (1998)
- Firozabad Train Collision (1995)
- Ghatkopar Train Accident (2017)
1. Bihar Train Disaster
The Bihar Train Disaster, also known as the Dhanbad rail disaster, occurred on June 6, 1981, in Bihar, India. It remains one of the deadliest train accidents in the country’s history. The accident took place near the Saharsa railway station in the early morning hours.
The tragedy unfolded when an express train, the Howrah-Delhi Rajdhani Express, collided head-on with a local passenger train called the S-2. The collision was a result of a signal failure caused by negligence and human error. Both trains were traveling at high speeds, exacerbating the impact.
The collision and subsequent fire caused extensive damage to the train coaches, trapping many passengers inside. The intensity of the fire made rescue efforts challenging and resulted in a high number of casualties. The exact number of fatalities is uncertain due to difficulties in identifying victims and discrepancies in reporting, but estimates range from approximately 800 to 1,000 people losing their lives.
The Bihar Train Disaster was a grave tragedy that raised concerns about railway safety and highlighted the importance of improving infrastructure, signaling systems, and emergency response mechanisms. It served as a wake-up call for the Indian Railways to implement stricter safety protocols and modernize their operations to prevent such catastrophic accidents in the future.
2. Gaisal Train Accident
The Gaisal train accident occurred on August 2, 1999, in Gaisal, Assam, India. It remains one of the deadliest train accidents in the country’s history. The accident took place when the Brahmaputra Mail, a passenger train, collided with a derailed freight train.
The freight train had derailed earlier due to a track defect, and the subsequent collision with the Brahmaputra Mail resulted in a devastating accident. The impact of the collision led to an explosion and fire, causing widespread destruction and loss of life.
The accident resulted in the deaths of around 290 people, with many others injured. The intensity of the fire made rescue and relief efforts challenging for emergency services personnel. The incident sent shockwaves through the nation, and investigations were conducted to determine the causes and factors contributing to the accident.
The Gaisal train accident underscored the importance of ensuring proper track maintenance, regular inspections, and prompt response to prevent derailments and subsequent collisions. It served as a reminder of the critical need for enhanced safety measures and adherence to protocols to avoid such catastrophic accidents in the future.
3. Khanna Train Accident
The Khanna Train Accident occurred on November 26, 1998, near the town of Khanna in the state of Punjab, India. It was a devastating train collision that resulted in significant loss of life and injuries.
The accident involved the Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express, a long-distance passenger train, and a stationary freight train. Due to a signaling error, several coaches of the Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express derailed and collided with the stationary freight train, leading to a major accident.
The impact of the collision caused severe damage to the derailed coaches, resulting in a significant loss of life. The exact number of casualties is approximate, with estimates suggesting that around 212 people lost their lives in this tragic incident. Many others sustained injuries of varying degrees of severity.
Rescue operations were initiated promptly, and efforts were made to provide medical assistance to the injured. The accident highlighted the need for improved safety measures, including better signaling systems and enhanced training for railway staff.
The Khanna Train Accident brought attention to the importance of maintaining and upgrading railway infrastructure to ensure the safety of passengers. It served as a reminder of the continuous efforts required to enhance safety standards in the Indian Railways and prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.
4. Firozabad Train Collision
The Firozabad train collision occurred on November 26, 1998, near the Firozabad railway station in Uttar Pradesh, India. It was a devastating accident that resulted in significant loss of life and injuries.
The incident involved the collision of two trains: the Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express and the Kalindi Express. The Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express was traveling from Jammu Tawi in Jammu and Kashmir to Sealdah in West Bengal, while the Kalindi Express was traveling from Kanpur to Kolkata. The collision took place when the Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express, running at high speed, collided with the stationary Kalindi Express.
The primary cause of the collision was attributed to a signaling error and miscommunication between the control room and the train operators. The signal to stop the Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express was not given, leading to the collision with the stationary train. The impact of the collision caused severe damage to the train coaches, resulting in the loss of many lives and injuries to numerous passengers.
The Firozabad train collision resulted in the deaths of approximately 212 people, with many others sustaining injuries of varying degrees. The accident led to widespread shock and raised concerns about railway safety measures, signaling systems, and operational procedures.
Following the tragedy, there were calls for improved safety protocols and reforms in the Indian Railways to prevent similar accidents. Efforts were made to enhance signaling systems, ensure better communication between control rooms and train operators, and strengthen safety measures to minimize the risk of collisions and other railway accidents in the future.
5. Ghatkopar Train Accident
The Ghatkopar Train Accident, also known as the Elphinstone Road station stampede, occurred on September 29, 2017, in Mumbai, India. It was a tragic incident that resulted in the loss of lives and injuries to several commuters.
The stampede took place during the morning rush hour at the Elphinstone Road railway station, which is now called Prabhadevi station. Heavy rainfall had led to a large crowd of commuters seeking shelter on a narrow footbridge that connects the Elphinstone Road and Parel stations.
Amid the overcrowding and confusion, a sudden surge in the crowd occurred, resulting in a stampede on the footbridge. The stampede caused panic and chaos, leading to many people being crushed or falling down the stairs. As a result, 23 people lost their lives, and numerous others sustained injuries.
The Ghatkopar Train Accident brought attention to the issues of infrastructure, overcrowding, and safety in Mumbai’s suburban railway system. The incident prompted authorities to take immediate measures to improve infrastructure, widen the footbridges, enhance crowd management systems, and strengthen safety measures to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
It serves as a reminder of the importance of continuous efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of commuters using public transportation systems, particularly during peak hours and adverse weather conditions.
Other deadliest train accident:
- Odisha Train Accident: On June 2, 2023, three trains collided in Odisha, India, killing at least 288 people and injuring over 800. The accident happened at Bahanaga Bazar Station in Balasore district, when the Coromandel Shalimar Express (12841) train entered a wrong track moments before the mishap. Another train, the Yesvantpur-Howrah Superfast, then crashed into the derailed coaches of the other two trains.
- Rafiganj Train Derailment (2002): In Bihar’s Rafiganj, a train derailed due to a damaged track, leading to the deaths of over 130 people.
- Brahmaputra Mail Accident (1997): A head-on collision between two trains near Mathura, Uttar Pradesh resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people.
- Vaishali Express Train Accident (2013): A train collided with a vehicle at a level crossing in Bihar, resulting in over 100 deaths.
- Purulia Express Train Accident (2010): Around 100 people lost their lives when a train derailed in West Bengal’s Purulia district.
- Peruman Train Disaster (1981): In Tamil Nadu’s Peruman, a train derailed due to a bridge collapse, causing over 100 casualties.
- Howrah-Kalka Mail Train Accident (2010): A rear-end collision between two trains near Sainthia, West Bengal caused the deaths of over 60 passengers.
Train accidents are tragic events, and the numbers mentioned here are approximate figures based on available information. Safety measures and reforms continue to be implemented to prevent such accidents and ensure passenger safety in India’s extensive railway network.