Train derailments dominated the news in the recent past. How is the government addressing such frequent accidents?
The Indian Railways will spend Rs 1,000 crore a month for the next six months to replace old and out-of-date tracks with new ones, an exercise aimed at reducing train derailments, the Economic Times reported.
Every fiscal year, less than 2 percent of the tracks in India are renewed across the country. India has the one world’s most extensive railway networks in the world with 115,000 km of tracks covering 65,000 km and 7,500 stations.
After a spate of fatal incidences Piyush Goyal, railway minister, has orders for 3600 km of tracks to be renewed – an 80 percent jump. Earlier, 2000 km of rails were renewed annually.
The minister has also cleared a proposal to call for global bids for the supply of steel rails next month. This is so that there is no want of more supplies.
“We will be changing everything from track ballasts to the clips. The work is being done on a war footing. Tracks are already being routed to the desired locations. General managers of the zones have been instructed to award maintenance blocks wherever needed,” a railway ministry official said to ET.
Goyal has also instructed the Rail Board to meet every Wednesday to review the safety parameters of all the rail zones.
The railways have also decided to work out a new timetable for trains so that there is enough time available for the maintenance of tracks and signalling.
On highly dense routes there is a train every 10 minutes, which leaves the little engineers time for maintenance. The new timetable, to be released on November 1, will also reduce unnecessary delays on routes by up to 60 minutes.
The ministry has been making several attempts to mitigate such tragedies in the future – even if that means cracking down on their staff. Entertainment apps like YouTube and messaging app WhatsApp are banned during work hours. Those who are found flouting the rule will be severely dealt with, said the ministry.
The Standing Committee on Railways, while examining safety and security, said many accidents are due to lapses on the part of the employees, the Wire reported. Carelessness, poor maintenance work, short-cuts and not following safety rules have cost many lives.