‘A start of ‘Acche Din’ for railway commuters!’
The Indian Railway is one of the world’s largest railway network. It has about 1,15,000 kms of track over a route of around 67,312 km and 7,112 stations. Nowhere in the world do trains have to traverse such a wide variety of landscapes in a single journey. From the arid planes of Madhya Pradesh to the hills and forests of the Western Ghats – our trains have to deal with rusty bridges, old rails, and poor switching stations. Even when they are working efficiently, sometimes the unthinkable can happen.
One of the worst train wrecks that happened in India was ‘The Gaisal Train Disaster’. It occurred on 2nd August, 1999, when two trains carrying 2,500 people collided at the remote station of Gaisal. This station is about 310 miles from the city of Gauhati in Assam. The crash occurred when the Avadh Assam Express from New Delhi was at the station and The Brahmaputra Mail from Dibrugarh, packed with soldiers and security police heading for the border regions at high speed, through a signaling error, was transferred onto the same track as the express train. The crash was at such high speeds that the trains exploded upon impact killing at least 290 people.
A recent mishap happened to hundreds of commuters travelling in the Thiruvananthapuram-Mangalru Express. 13 coaches of the train derailed at Karukutty near Angamaly station on 28th August. Thankfully, no one was injured.
Our railway is doing everything it can to maintain such a vast network. But, we are dealing with an anachronous system. Our trains are getting old, and the majority of accidents happen because of metal fatigue.
However, there is a silver lining.
Even though the Indian Railway cannot prevent mishaps from happening, it is trying to at least help the unfortunate souls who suffer due to various mishaps.
The Railway Insurance Scheme
The Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had announced plans to launch passenger insurance scheme in Rail Budget this year. Just recently, a railway insurance scheme has been announced on these lines. The scheme has been launched on a pilot basis this month itself for passengers booking an online ticket, and it may be extended to passengers buying tickets from counters and monthly season ticket travelers in days to come.
Under this scheme, a passenger will get an insurance cover of Rs. 10 lakhs in case of permanent disability or death, Rs. 7.5 lakhs for partial disability or injuries,Rs. 5 lakhs for hospitalization, and Rs. 10,000 for transportation of mortal remains. – all for a premium of just Re. 1.
How to opt for this scheme?
To avail this scheme, a passenger has to opt for ‘insurance’ while booking the e-ticket. The premium is based on the duration of the journey and the distance. Although the insurance cover is available for all e-tickets, irrespective of the class, the scheme won’t be available for suburban trains.
Thousands of people depend on the Indian Railway everyday. Even though our railways are much safer than our roads, sometimes things can go wrong. The government has taken a step in the right direction by providing an insurance cover for the commuters. Just like PM Narendra Modi rightly said