India’s worst rail disaster in two decades occurred on Friday evening when two passenger trains collided in Odisha State, killing over 270 people and raising questions about rail safety in the country. The collision was most likely caused by signal problems, according to initial assessments. Over 700 passengers were injured. The force of the collision resulted in rescuers using cutting equipment to reach victims. The crash has renewed concerns over the country’s investment in the rail system which is a lifeline for millions of people. Nearly all of India’s railways were built from 1870 to 1930, with derailing accidents once common. However, they have reduced significantly in recent years with just over 50 on average annually. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, infrastructure, including transportation systems, has become a priority with the elimination of unmanned railway crossings and the installation of signal conductors being achieved. The rail system is an important political issue, with the position of railway minister seen as highly influential.
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