“You repeat a lie thousand times, and people start considering it as truth” is a very famous quote, and perfectly describes the Indian media. If a lie is fed thousand times to a not-so-well informed public, the lie begins to be perceived as the truth. This becomes all more serious when mainstream media houses propagate lies day and night, keeping the facts aside. Of late, after a couple of major railway derailments, media kept on using the sentiments to push the fact that the accidents have increased in the last few years. However, the rhetoric of ‘increasing accidents’ is just based on the emotions, and when such a lie is repeated again and again in a situation just after three consecutive derailments in a month, people tend to buy the narrative. However, the fact and data  tells a completely different story.

In a written reply to a question on the ‘increasing’ number of accidents in Indian Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhu cited official data of the last 10 years which indicate that the accidents have been continuously decreasing over the years since 2004. Train accidents have declined from 195 in 2006-07 to 135 in 2014-15 and further to 107 in 2015-16. Also, accidents per million train kilometres, an important index of safety, has come down from 0.23 in 2006-07 to 0.11 in 2014-15 and further to 0.10 in 2015-16. The accidents have decreased in the past years due to various factors such as better rail quality, improved signalling, better technology and elimination of unmanned level crossings.

There is no denying the fact that accidents still occur in the Indian Railways network, and is not accident-proof. It is often heard that there are more railway accidents in India than European countries. The absolute numbers are never a good idea to compare because European countries are very small compared to India, and hence the lower accident numbers. When we look at the normalised data, while the accidents per million train kilometres is 0.10 in India, it is 0.12 in Germany and 0.14 in the United Kingdom, implying that if normalized by the route length, the rate of accidents in much lesser in India than Germany, France or UK – the countries with advanced railway networks. Indian Railways has a long way to go and needs much more improvement, but projecting it as highly unsafe or constantly repeating the increase in accidents have no relation to fact.

Indian media, once again, has been caught spreading lies and showing utter disregard for facts to continue its sensationalism.

Kshitij Mohan

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