Concerned with the recent spate of train accidents, the Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu held a number of meetings to review the safety performance of Indian Railways.
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 3 to 4 years. The Railway Minister reviewed the production plan and gave directions for expeditious implementation.
A task force of railway officers was constituted on 6th December, 2016 to recommend short-term, medium-term and long-term measures for improving the safety performance. This task force submitted, its report and the Railway Board itself reviewed the report.
During the meetings held Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu has requested experts from Japan and Korea to visit India and to recommend suitable technological solutions. A cooperation agreement was signed between the RTRI (Railway Technological Research Institute of Japan) and RDSO and 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.
Railway Minister also had detailed meetings with railway experts throughout the day on the subject and interacted with them. Some useful suggestions were received and he directed for immediate implementation. Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu also interacted with Dr. Anil Kakodkar, a noted Nuclear Scientist and a safety expert on the matter.
He also had 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 he addressed all the General Managers of the zonal railways, through video conference, he stated that the General Managers need to live up to the expectations required from them and he candidly warned the officials to be ready for consequences for any lapse. He mentioned that delegation cannot work without responsibility. He also mentioned that responsibility would now to be fixed at higher levels for any lapses.
Minister of Railways also requested Shri 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 has directed that all railway installations should be inspected over the next one week to identify and rectify the shortcomings. He also directed that the report of this exercise with actionable points should be sent to the Railway Board within the prescribed time. It has also 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.
Minister of Railways 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 directed the Board to relook at the codes and manuals for updating and safety protocols. The Railway Minister also directed to involve railway PSUs like RVNL, RITES, etc., to offer technological solutions and safety related inputs on the network. He has also directed for independent audit of the safety installations.
He has also directed the Railway Board to fast track the procurement of safety equipments and machines.