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Odisha train accident: Do Indian Railways need a special team for maintenance?

Gulshan Rai Khatri

Balasore After the horrific train accident, once again serious questions have been raised on railway safety. Although the exact cause of the accident will be revealed only after the investigation report comes, but it is necessary for the Railways to at least learn from this incident. The then railway minister Suresh Prabhu had to resign due to the train accident six years ago. Despite this, rail accidents have happened, so it is obvious that the railway system has not improved yet.

Safety Level: The biggest challenge in front of the Indian Railways, which has about 65 thousand km of rail lines and operates more than 10 thousand trains daily, is that the rail system should be safe and run at its own pace. For this, the Railways needs to work at two levels.

  • Firstly, the emphasis should be on technology and the safety of railway tracks and trains should be ensured.
  • Another more important task is to develop a monitoring system that can work dedicatedly on the maintenance system of the railways.
  • In India, it is extremely hot and extremely cold as well. Both these seasons affect the railway tracks.
  • In such a situation, it is necessary that such a technical system should be developed to make the tracks safe, which will keep these tracks safe in every situation.

Monitoring System: Railways has increased expenditure heavily on expansion and other works in recent years. For example, railway stations are being built to compete with the airport, new trains like Vande Bharat are coming.

  • Passengers spend only an hour and a half at the railway station, but their journey in the train often lasts from 4 to 18 hours. In such a situation, the railways need to spend more on the track and train instead of the station.
  • For the last few decades, the maximum speed of most trains has been 130 km. Now the speed of railway trains is in preparation to 160 and 180. The use of 200 km speed on some routes is also under consideration.
  • In such a situation, it is necessary for the Railways to spend on the maintenance cost as well. This expenditure is less in India as compared to other countries. The government should spend more on making the track and trains safe.
  • Railways have a Central Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), which is under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The reality is that he is also an officer from the Railways. It is necessary that the investigation of accidents should be done by officers from outside the Railways and not by the officers of the Railways.
  • There is also a need to create an independent monitoring system in the railways, like the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in aviation. This system will have to be made so independent, unbiased and strict that it can closely monitor not only the maintenance but also the methods of train safety.
  • The way DGCA takes strict action even on small mistakes of pilots or crew members, a similar system is necessary for Indian Railways.
  • In the present era it is also needed because in the next few years bullet trains will start running and the speed of other trains will also increase.

Mounted curb: Railways has already expressed its intention to make a regulator in the matter of passenger fares, then at least a regulator can be made for safety. With the presence of safety regulator, not only the maintenance system but also the incidents of operational system and human error can be curbed. About six years back, a delegation from the World Bank, which came to discuss the Indian rail network, had also suggested a similar monitoring mechanism to the railways. But at that time a top railway official had rejected it.

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