While anyone who has spent any length of time on an Indian train might automatically assume the toilet deaths result from hygiene standards, the strange truth is that human excrement has corroded a huge percentage of the Subcontinent’s 70,000 miles of tracks, causing accidents.
Toilets on Indian trains discharge waste directly onto tracks, which has been found to make them unreliable and unstable.
Around 15,000 people die on India’s railways every year, and a significant proportion of these deaths could be attributed to faulty tracks affected by excrement.
A committee looking into safety on trains in India recommended that the country’s railways are equipped with toilets that do not discharge onto tracks.
Dr Anil Kakodkar, head of the committee, told the Indian Express newspaper about excrement corroding the tracks, and added: “It is one of the life limiting factors … because of the pH content of the toilet discharge, there is widespread corrosion of the rails. These toilets need to be discontinued. We also found that maintenance workers often refuse to service the undercarriage of the trains because discharge from toilets makes the undercarriage extremely dirty.”
The committee was set up by the government last September after a spate of train accidents.
Of the 15,000 people who are estimated to die on India’s railways every year, 6000 meet their end on Mumbai’s suburban rail network.