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PM seeks railway safety plan amid increasing mishaps

Last updated on: July 22, 2011 13:09 IST

PM seeks railway safety plan amid increasing mishaps

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Amid concerns over increasing number of train accidents, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought a detailed safety plan from the railways.

"A detailed safety plan is being readied to be submitted to the Prime Minister's Office shortly," a source in the railway ministry said.

The PM asked for the report after derailment of the Howrah-Kalka Mail on July 10 in which 69 passengers were killed and around 240 others were injured.

The major train mishap occurred three days after 32 people were killed when the Mathura-Chapra Express rammed into a bus on an unmanned level crossing on July 7.

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Image: Rescue workers help to move a carriage, lifted by crane, from Kalka mail which derailed near Fatehpur on July 10, killing 69.
Photographs: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters
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Safety related works to cost about Rs 70,000 crore

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According to the safety plan to be submitted to the PMO, the various safety-related works required for the railways are to the tune of around Rs 70,000 crore, the source said.

The safety plan gives details of measures needed to prevent accidents, such as installation of anti-collision device and train protection warning system, elimination of unmanned level crossings, mechanised maintenance of tracks, upgradation of signal and telecommunication, induction of crash-worthy LHB coaches and upgradation of locomotives.

Since the safety related works is estimated to cost about Rs 70,000 crore, the railways is looking for a generous grant from the exchequer outside the rail budget, the source added.


Image: PM Dr Singh

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Sluggish pace of putting in safety measures worrying

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There is growing concern about the maintenance of railways' vast tracks and the slow pace of installation of anti-collision devices and train protection warning systems.

The last few years have seen minimal investment in safety infrastructure due to poor financial health of the railways.

Currently, the railways have vacancies for 1,26,044 posts in the safety category and 14,896 for unmanned level crossings across the country.

However, a senior railway official said the upgradation of safety measures is a continuous process and steps are underway to enhance rail safety.

According to the safety plan being finalised, the railways require about Rs 31,000 crore to improve signal and telecommunication system in a phased manner.


Image: Damaged trains are seen at the site of an accident in Bolangir district of Orissa May 4. At least 26 passengers were injured in the mishap.
Photographs: Reuters
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Upgradation of human resources a prime priority for railways

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To eliminate all unmanned level crossings by 2015, the railways would need around Rs 5,000 crore.

All electric locomotives are to be equipped with Vigilance Control Device to prevent accidents in case the driver is incapacitated during the run.

Railways need around Rs 40 crore to equip all locomotives with VCD. So far only 749 locomotives out of 4,147 electric ones have been equipped with VCDs.

Since the entire safety edifice of railways depends on the human element, there is need to upgrade human resources to meet the challenges.

Railways need funds to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore for upgrading training institutions. Last year also there were two major train accidents at Sainthia and West Midnapore in West Bengal which claimed more than 200 lives.


Image: Rescue workers carry the body of a victim after Kalka mail derailed near Fatehpur.
Photographs: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters
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