India’s creaking railway system is the world’s fourth largest. It runs 11,000 trains a day, including 7,000 passenger trains carrying more than 20 million people.
But it has a poor safety record, with thousands of people dying in accidents every year, including in derailments and collisions. This was at least the third such accident in recent weeks. On Nov. 20, at least 146 people died when a train derailed near the same city.
Suresh Prabhu, India’s railways minister, has promised to replace old tracks and upgrade safety apparatus. The government spends more than 90 percent of the railways’ revenues on operational costs, leaving little for upgrades for the colonial-era system.
By some analyst estimates, the railways need 20 trillion rupees of investment by 2020, and India is turning to partnerships with private companies and seeking loans from other countries to upgrade the network.