Concerned with the recent spate of train accidents, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday held a number of meetings to review the safety performance of Indian Railways. During the meetings, Prabhu requested experts from Japan and Korea to visit India and to recommend suitable technological solutions. A cooperation agreement was signed between the RDSO (Research Design and Standards Organisation), RTRI (Railway Technological Research Institute of Japan) with Korean Rail Research Institute on the behest of the Railway Minister for cooperation in the field of railway safety. It is expected that these teams would arrive soon.
After the unfortunate railway accident of Train No. 19321 in November 2016, under the direction of the Railway Minister it was decided that Indian Railways would completely switch over to the production of LHB coaches which are designed with better safety features like anti-climbing and anti-telescoping. An action plan has also been chalked out for retro-fitting of the existing 45,000 ICF designed coaches with better safety features over the next three to four years. The Railway Minister reviewed the production plan and gave directions for expeditious implementation.
A task force of railway officers was constituted on December 6, 2016 to recommend short-term, medium-term and long-term measures for improving the safety performance. This task force submitted its report today and the Railway Board today itself reviewed the report.
The Railway Minister held detailed meetings with railway experts throughout the day on the subject and interacted with them. Some useful suggestions were received and he directed for their immediate implementation. Prabhu also interacted with Dr. Anil Kakodkar, a noted Nuclear Scientist and a safety expert on the matter. He also held detailed discussion with all the Members of the Railway Board who are involved in safe running of trains. He directed that safety was paramount and cannot be compromised.
Later, the Minister addressed all the General Managers of the zonal railways, through video conference, and said that the General Managers need to live up to the expectations required from them and candidly warned the officials to be ready for consequences for any lapse.
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He mentioned that delegation cannot work without responsibility. The Railway Minister requested Vinod Rai, retired CAG to help in revamping the safety organization structure and also systemic improvements which are needed to improve the safety performance. He directed that all railway installations should be inspected over the next one week to identify and rectify the shortcomings.
Prabhu also directed that the report of this exercise with actionable points should be sent to the Railway Board within the prescribed time. It has been directed that all mail/express trains would have at least one officer or senior subordinate travelling during night hours on locomotives for comprehensive inspection over next 10 days. This will be in addition to the existing schedule and inspection at various levels.
The Railway Minister also directed that there was an urgent need to go back to the basics and insisted that training programmes should be launched immediately to enhance the skill sets of the employees who are dealing with train operations.
He ordered the board to relook at the codes and manuals for updating safety protocols. He also directed for independent audit of the safety installations and asked the Railway Board to fast track the procurement of safety equipments and machines.