For the first time in its history, Railway Board is all set to have a member to exclusively focus on safety issues of the national transporter, sources in the ministry said. A parliamentary panel had in August last year recommended the need for such a post to sharpen focus on safety in the backdrop of recurring accidents, and cautioned the Railway against its reluctance to set up the post.
“Such an attitude reflects the Ministry’s unwillingness to relinquish age-old practices and procedures,” it had said. The sources in the ministry said that Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has already approved the creation of the Member (Safety) post, along with two others – Member (Materials Management) and Member (Signalling and Telecom) – to expand the Board, which had five members, to eight members. The ministry will soon move the Cabinet with the proposal for approval.
A railway panel for safety – the Kakodkar Commission – in its report had recommended the creation of an independent statutory Railway Safety Authority, with enough powers to have a safety oversight on the operational mode of Railways. It was in fact against the vesting of all powers in the Board itself.
Months before the approval for the creation of the post, the senior-most safety officer, Advisor, Safety, who used to report to Member, Traffic, started reporting to Chairman, Railway Board, indicating an impending restructuring, the sources said. They said that Goyal has also proposed turning the Member (Staff) post into a cadre post for Indian Railway Personnel Service (Indian Railway Personnel Service, IRPS) while the new Member (Safety) post will be open to all services.
While the candidate for Member (Materials Management) will be drawn from the Indian Railway Stores Service (IRSS) cadre employees, Member (S&T) will be from the Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSSE) cadre employees. “The above posts along with other major administrative changes will now go to the Cabinet for approval before getting implemented. “The step related to Member (Staff) is in the right direction as an expert in the personnel field will head the department which will help in better manpower planning and human relations in the railways,” a source said.
The railways’ group A services include traffic, accounts, personnel in the civil services cadre; mechanical, electrical, civil, signalling, stores in the engineering services cadre; and the RPF, which is also a civil service cadre.