With one of the biggest rail networks in the world and a decent safety record, Indian Railways has been doing a good job of transporting people across the length and breadth of the country. These links provide some history of the rail accidents.
The reports of accidents provided in EconomicTimes should be seen with the size of the operations of the Indian railways and not in absolute numbers. The HindustanTimes gives a summary of data available and from it one thing becomes clear, out of the 28360 accidents, 14870 accidents happen from three states, namely Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal which is around 52%. From the data available (http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=155019) the total railway track is around 66687KM and the three accident prone states include a network of 18957KM which is around 28%.
From the figures available it can be concluded that by working on 28% of the track length around 52% of the accidents can be reduced. By looking at the sectors where the accidents are more prone, the length of the route where higher safety needs to be addressed first can be easily ascertained.
The recent incidents which appear like sabotage by the enemies of the state cannot be controlled by the simply safety measures. The saboteurs are working overtime by cutting tracks, placing obstructions in the tracks to ensure very large accidents and to build resentment of the people against the government.
Hence it needs alternate solutions. Ever train has a certain breaking distance depending on the number of bogies and the speed at which it is travelling. So this breaking distance should be utilized by the railways and a small pilot train which runs ahead of the actual train be tried. The pilot train should have facilities to check the track and in case of any discrepancy should provide signals to the train so that the same could be stopped. Human inspection cannot most of the times detect the cracks on the thousands of kilometers of tracks available because the accidents can happen by only one crack and every bit of the track needs continuous monitoring.
The Pilot train should be part of the actual train and should always run with it. The cost of running these pilot trains could be added into the ticket pricing and will always ensure that the safety of the track is maintained independent of the environmental factors. In a country as large as ours and with saboteurs needing only a single chance there are few solutions at hand.
URL Credit: Wikipedia, Hindustan Times, Economic Times and PIB