Monday morning in India, a train crashed into the back of another parked train in West Bengal. The result was not only mass devastation, but also the death of at least 60 people, and the injury of many more. The crash took place in an area that is under Maoist control, and is subject to various attacks. There are no indications that the engineer tried to stop the train, but the Christian Science Monitor has ventured to ask the question if the tragedy was really an attack.
NDTV.com reports that there are questions on whether or not a critical sign was given to the engineer, and if the West Bengal train crash was caused by human error.
Metrolink Train Wreck, California
There was a similar wreck in 2008 in California near Los Angeles. A commuter train crashed into the back of a freight train when the engineer missed a traffic signal because he was sending a text message. At least 25 people died in this accident. The crash tied up the tracks for days, and made it impossible for many people to get to and from work.
Montparnesse Train Station, France
In Paris, there was a train wreck at the Montparnesse station in 1895. This wreck has been talked about for years, as it left a train engine hanging from the building of the station. Miraculously, everyone survived the disaster – except a passerby on the street who was killed by falling debris. The cause of the wreck was noted to be a faulty brake and an engineer trying to make up for lost time. The engineer served a prison sentence, and was imposed a fine for the tragedy.
Could these train crashes been avoided?
As you can see, transportation disasters have been happening since mass transportation has become widely available. In my opinion, all of the disasters could have been avoided at some level. The Metrolink driver shouldn’t have been texting, and, in Montparnesse, the engineer should have exercised more caution.
In India, it doesn’t look like the engineer tried to even stop. This is perhaps the scariest accident of them all. The other incidents happened due to negligence. The West Bengal train crash looks calculated. There’s little you can do to avoid this type of incident, except for screening train drivers and other transportation workers very thoroughly.
On the other hand, pure negligence is just as scary as well. You would like to think that those in the transportation industry would be concerned first and foremost with the safety of travelers, not texting or doing whatever it is that diverted their attention in the first place.
New York Daily News
Christian Science Monitor