I found these articles on the "Independent" & UK Telegraph websites:
15,000 die on Indian railways every year
Wednesday 22 February 2012
As anyone who has ever travelled by train in India is more than aware, when one visits the lavatory there is little between oneself and the rattling tracks below.
Not so obvious, perhaps, is the revelation that each time one uses the loo, it makes the railways a little more unsafe. The acidic content of what gets flushed, it turns out, steadily corrodes the tracks, making them unstable and unreliable.
The finding, and the recommendation that railways in India should be equipped with toilets that do not discharge directly onto the tracks, was among the contents of a report made by experts reviewing safety on the trains.
The committee said Indian Railways – which has an estimated 1.5m staff and is among the world’s largest employers – has much to do. The committee found that every year around people 15,000 die on the railways and described those fatalities as a “massacre” that was being ignored by railway authorities. About 6,000 people die on Mumbai’s crowded suburban rail network alone.
“No civilised society can accept such a massacre on their railway system,” the report said, referring to the deaths of people crossing the tracks. “Reluctance of the Indian railways to own up to the casualties, which do not fall under the purview of accidents, but are nevertheless accidents on account of trains, can by no means be ignored.”
One member of the investigation committee told the Indian Express newspaper that human excrement has corroded a significant percentage of the country’s 70,000 miles of tracks. Dr Anil Kakodkar, head of the committee, told the newspaper: “It is one of the life limiting factors...because of the pH content of the toilet discharge, there is widespread corrosion of the rails. These toilets need to be discontinued.
We also found that maintenance workers often refuse to service the undercarriage of the trains because discharge from toilets makes the undercarriage extremely dirty.”
The review committee was set up by the government last September after a spate of train accidents. An estimated 20 million people in India travel by train every day.
The report called on the government to urgently replace all railroad crossings with bridges or overpasses over the next five years.
15,000 people die every year in 'massacre' on India's train tracks
A government committee in India has accused authorities of a "massacre" after a report revealed that approximately 15,000 people die every year trying to cross the tracks of the country's mammoth rail network.
3:23PM GMT 21 Feb 2012
About 6,000 people die on Mumbai's crowded suburban rail network alone, the safety panel's report said. Another 1,000 people die when they fall from crowded coaches, when trains collide or coaches derail.
The safety panel said previous recommendations to make the world's fourth largest railway system safer had been ignored. Its report noted that railway authorities were unwilling to classify the deaths of people hit by trains while crossing the tracks as train accidents.
Most of the deaths occur at unmanned railroad crossings, said the report released over the weekend.
India's 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometres) of railway track cut through some of the most densely populated cities, flanked by shanty towns, in the nation of 1.2 billion people.
Railway experts say stopping pedestrians from crossing the tracks in congested areas would be virtually impossible.
"The situation is exceptionally dangerous in Mumbai where four or five tracks, or more, lie parallel and people living in slums on either side have no choice but to walk across the tracks," said IMS Rana, a railway expert.
The panel was especially scathing about the large number of deaths in Mumbai and recommended that the "grim situation on Mumbai's suburban system has to be tackled on a war-footing".
The High Level Safety Review Committee was set up by the government in September after a spate of train accidents. Around 20 million people in India travel by train each day.
The report called on the government to urgently replace all railroad crossings with bridges or overpasses at an estimated cost of 500 billion rupees ($10 billion) over the next five years.
"No civilized society can accept such a massacre on their railway system," the report said, referring to the crossing deaths.
"Trespassing occurs because of lack of barricading, fencing, lack of adequate number of pedestrian overbridges and lack of facilities such as sufficient number of platforms, escalators, elevators for the disabled apart from insufficient train services. These are the main reasons for the heavy human death toll," the report said.
The committee, headed by leading scientist Anil Kakodkar, blamed railway authorities for the "grim picture," saying there were lax safety standards and poor management.