Railway accidents are akin to disasters. When this happens, it causes serious injuries or maybe death to people.
There are various reasons for railway accidents. Some of them are:
- Human error
- Engineer distraction
- Excessive speed
- Failure to timely brake
- Track and Roadbed Malfunctions
- Mechanical Failure
- Reckless pedestrians and drivers
- Mechanical failure
- Speedy trains
- Defective tracks
- Unprotected railroad crossings
Effects of rail accidents
- Death and injury to passengers and the general public
- Possible environmental loss – chemical spillages, flammable or explosive cargoes
- Destruction of public property and consequent financial losses
- Disruption of rail and road traffic
- Loss of public and commercial confidence in the transport system
List of worst railway accidents
Every accident is unfortunate, as it brings so much upheaval to the victim’s life. Here is a list of the ten worst railway accidents.
Queen of The Sea, Sri Lanka
The Queen of The Sea train crash in Sri Lanka, caused by the Indian Ocean Tsunami that struck in December 2004, is regarded as the worst train disaster in railroad history after it caused the death of over 1,700 people. The train was drowned and destroyed by two waves.
The Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne derailment in France caused the death of more than 700 people and yet remains the greatest rail disaster in French history. The accident occurred in December 1917 when a heavily loaded 350m long train derailed after suffering brake failure. The train caught fire while descending into a valley.
Bihar derailment, India
A train accident in Bihar, India, resulted in the approximate death of 800 people, occurred in June 1981 when it was crossing a bridge over the Bagmati River near the city of Mansi hit by a cyclone. The train derailed from its track and then plunged into the river. The train suffered from brake failure too during the disaster.
Ciurea station, Romania
The Ciurea rail disaster in Romania caused a death toll of over 600 people in January 1917 at Ciurea station in Romania. Brake failure caused the derailment and caught fire after being switched onto a loop to prevent collision with another train at the Ciurea station. At the time of the disaster, the train descending a steep bank at high speed near the station.
Guadalajara accident, Mexico
The Guadalajara train accident in Mexico caused the death of approximately 600 people. The disaster occurred in January 1915 due to brake failure when the train was running on a steep descent. The train derailed from the track and plunged into a canyon near Guadalajara that caused the death of many people who were thrown off from the train as it inclined curves at high speed.
Ufa train disaster, Russia
The Ufa train disaster was occurred in June 1989 near the city of Ufa in the Soviet Union, which resulted in the death of approximately 575 people and remained the deadliest railway disaster in Russian and Soviet history. This disaster occurred due to a highly flammable cloud created by the liquefied gas spill from a burst pipeline near the railway line. The two passenger trains carried approximately 1,300 passengers at the time of the accident. The force of this massive explosion was estimated to be 10kt TNT. It burnt seven carriages and destroyed 37 train cars and two locomotives. The accident caused injuries to more than 800 people.
An accident near Balvano in southern Italy in March 1944 caused the death of 520 people that make it the worst and also one of the unusual train disasters in the country. This disaster occurred due to carbon monoxide gas from steam engines of locomotive No 8017 when it stalled with all the cars on a steep gradient inside the Armi tunnel. The low-quality coal created poisonous carbon monoxide that caused many fatalities.
Torre del Bierzo, Spain
The Torre del Bierzo rail accident in January 1944 near the village of Torre del Bierzo in Spain caused the death of over 500 people. The disaster occurred due to a fire caused by the collision of three trains. The train suffered from brake failure and got hit by the shunting engine. The trains caught fire, which destroyed the signaling cable.
Awash derailment, Ethiopia
The Awash rail accident caused 400 deaths and became the worst train disaster ever in Africa. The accident occurred in January 1985 due to the derailment of an express train. The train derailed and crashed on a curve while crossing a bridge between two railway stations. The four cars of the train plunged into a ravine on the Awash River. At the time of the accident, the train carried approximately 1,000 people in five cars and was running at an excessive speed.
Al Ayyat train disaster, Egypt
The train disaster occurred near Al Ayyat, near Cairo, Egypt, in February 2002 that caused the death of 383 people. The passenger train overloaded with people in its 11 carriages. A cooking gas cylinder explosion in the fifth carriage creating a fire that spread to seven carriages. The burning train traveled for four miles due to lack of communication between the driver and the rear carriages and finally stopped near Al-Ayyat. Many of the passengers that jumped from the train did not survive.