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Indian Railways: 5 myths and facts

Author:
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 22, 2017
URL:    
http://m.timesofindia.com/india/indian-railways-5-myths-and-facts/amp_articleshow/60175218.cms

Myth #1: Number of Railways accidents and fatalities have increased under Suresh Prabhu.

Reality: The consequential train accidents have continuously declined from 135 in 2014-15 to 107 in 2015-16 and further to 104 in 2016-17. To state a comparison, the average annual accidents during UPA I were 207 per year, during UPA II were 135 per year and during current government have reduced to 115 per year. Although every human life is invaluable and is irreparable loss to us but the number of casualties have also seen a declining trend. Total fatalities in first 3 years of UPA I were 759, they increased to 938 during UPA II, while the first three years of this government has seen the number decline to 652.

Myth #2: Railways has lost focus on safety.

Reality: Safety remains one of the prime concerns and priorities for the Ministry.

1. When this government took over, analysis revealed that 40 per cent of the accidents and 60 per cent of fatalities were due to accidents on Unmanned level crossings. Hence, Mission Zero Accident was launched to ensure all Unmanned level crossings were eliminated by 2019. It has seen unprecedented success, where we eliminated 4258 UMLCs in last 3 years, leading to drop in fatalities from UMLC accidents from 64 per cent of total fatalities in 2013-14 to 16.81 per cent in 2016-17.

2. State of infrastructure is an important constituent to safety performance. The infrastructure had been deteriorating due to years of neglect, which requires huge investments. Investment in safety have increased from Rs 33972 Crore per year during UPA II to Rs54031 Crore every year under this government a jump of 60 per cent.

3. Congestion on tracks also has some impact on safety. Reduction in congestion is achieved by infrastructure upgradation which again requires huge capital expenditure. We have been working this regard also. Under this government, by the end of year we would be spending about Rs 4 lakh crore on infrastructure creation. In last 67 years since independence (1947- 2014) capital investment of Rs 4.9 lakh crore was made on Indian Railways.

4. In 2017-18, a Fund namely 'Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh' (RRSK) has been created for financing critical safety related works. The Fund has been created with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years.

5. Decision to stop production of ICF coaches, the main stay of Indian Raiwlays Passenger Business for many years, and having no anti climbing features was taken in 2015-16.

6. Existing stock of 40,000 ICF coaches (90 per cent of total coaches) cannot be discarded and hence is being retrofitted with CBC couplers to make them safer.

7. New technologies like Condition based monitoring system for rolling stock and Track and Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection System are being piloted on the network.

Myth #3: Number of vacancies in safety positions has increased recently leading to a spurt in accidents.

Reality: Average vacancy in safety positions during the period 2009-10 to 2013-14 was 18.65 per cent of total sanctioned strength. This has dropped down to 16.86 per cent in 2017 despite the sanctioned strength increasing by 5 per cent from 2014 to 2017. Further, during the current government we have recruited almost 37,510 people in the safety categories taking the total staff strength to 635940 on 1.04.2017. Massive recruitments of almost 2,00,000 staff in these categories are also lined up .

Myth #4: Railways has been dragging its feet to implement Kakodkar Committee recommendations.

Reality: High Level Safety Review Committee had made 106 recommendations on various aspects of railway's working. Out of 106, 68 recommendations have been fully accepted out of which 52 have been fully implemented and 16 are under implementation. 19 recommendations were partially accepted out of which 13 have been implemented. 19 recommendations were not accepted by the Railways.

Myth #5: Railways has diverted funds to develop fancy projects like Bullet Train.

Reality: Indian Railways has unflinching commitment to the poor and the downtrodden as can be seen by a few examples:

1.Passenger fares are still amongst the lowest in the entire world. In fact, Indian Railways subsidises passenger and suburban travel to the tune of almost Rs 36,000 crore annually.

2.Antyodaya express - fully unreserved, super-fast trains with enhanced amenities such as drinking water, vestibule trains, LHB coaches etc were launched only to cater to unreserved segment.

3. Re 1 clinics were launched at important suburban stations

4. Indian Railways ensures availability of Janta meals at all major stations

High speed train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is being funded by Japan government with less than 20 per cent contribution from Government of India. This money, which came at incredibly attractive terms (0.1 per cent rate of interest) was made available only for this high-speed project and was not available to fund safety projects for Indian Railways. Moreover, high speed train is the safest mode of transport in the world. Hence, the government has not diverted any funds from existing corpus.
 
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