Railways Constitutes High Level Safety Review Committee
Safety Accorded Highest Priority; Dinesh Trivedi
The Minister of Railways, Shri Dinesh Trivedi, at a press conference here today, announced the constitution of a High Level Safety Review Committee. The committee comprising of eminent persons/experts in technical and high end technology related fields with experience and expertise in a managing innovation in technology and change will also provide a valuable independent outsiders’ view in respect of the system and protocols. Present on the occasion among others were the Minister of State for Railways Shri Bharatsinh Solanki, Chairman Railway Board, Shri Vinay Mittal, Board Members and three members of the new committee.
The Committee will be headed by Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, and assisted by Dr. N. Vedachalam of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, Thiruvananthapuram, Prof. Sanjay Dhande, Director IIT Kanpur and Sh. G.P. Srivastava Director E&I Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Shri E. Sreedharan, Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has kindly consented to act as the Advisor to the Committee.
Based on the accidents and their consequences witnessed in the recent past, the Committee would examine aspects connected with Signalling Systems, Rolling Stock (of all types), Fixed Structures (Tracks, Bridges and OHE), Human Resource Development with emphasis on Training, Education and Research, Need for a Third Party Audit, Organisational and structural changes in RDSO and in any other department, and improvements in procedural system and improvement in procedures and systems and any other item/modification which Committee may desire.
The Committee would lay down the road map on safety related issues which need to be addressed in the short term and the long term and would give invaluable recommendations which would have a significant bearing on further improvement in the systems and protocols. Indian Railways would make all efforts to address the recommendations of the High Level Committee with a view to achieve further improvement in the safety environment on the Indian Railways.
Safety in train operations is accorded the highest priority by Indian Railways and all measures are being taken on a continual basis to prevent accidents and enhance safety. Despite the fact that safety record of Indian Railways has shown considerable improvement progressively, with the number of train accidents decreasing from over 2000 in 1960-61 to 473 in 2000-01 and further to 141 in 2010-11, with a corresponding reduction in the accidents per million train kilometers (globally accepted index of safety) from 5.50 in 1960-61 to 0.65 in 2000-01 and further to 0.15 in 2010-11, we in the Railways are seriously concerned with any accident, particularly an accident involving loss of human lives.
The recent accident of Kalka Mail in July 2011 near Kanpur on North Central Railway involving 70 casualties and also the collision near Arakonnam on Southern Railway involving 10 causalities has necessitated a holistic assessment of further additional measures which can be adopted to further enhance the safety environment on the Indian Railways. It is pertinent to mention that 57 consequential accidents have occurred in the current financial year i.e. from 1st April to 15th September 2011 in comparison to 65 accidents in the corresponding period of the previous year, which included 23 incidents at unmanned level crossing gates in each of these two years.
As far as Indian Railways is concerned, there can be no tolerance even for a single accident involving loss of human life but the substantial growth in the passenger and freight traffic handled by the system does definitely put considerable strain on the infrastructure which needs to be addressed progressively. In the previous decade, the total number of average passenger and freight trains run daily on the Indian Railways’ system have increased by 30% from around 14,000 to almost 19,000. These include over 12,000 passenger carrying trains. The number of passengers carried have increased by almost 50% from around 4800 to 7200 million with a growth of almost 90% originating freight traffic from 473 million tonnes to 888 million tonnes. Indian Railways have in fact added over 450 trains including 325 passenger and 125 freight services in the last decade i.e. 2001-2010, to run on a daily basis as compared to only 30 daily trains added per year in the previous decade i.e. 1990-2000.
It has been Indian Railways’ constant endeavour to upgrade its infrastructure for meeting the safety requirement for handling the exponential growth of traffic. Pin pointed safety measures like up gradation of track structure, mechanized maintenance of track, improvement in welding technology, large scale track circuiting, introduction of electrical/electronic signalling systems, advanced monitoring systems such as axle counters, vigilance control devices on locomotives, improvement in rolling stock such as introduction of LHB type coaches and improvement in freight stock with air brake systems, upgraded design of locomotives, improvement of training methodology have received undivided focus and attention.
In view of the extreme demand on the Indian Railways’ system, both in respect of infrastructure as also skilled manpower directly connected with safety on the railways arising out of the aspirations of the general public and public representatives and with a view to ensure that safety is given overriding priority and no aspect connected with safety escapes attention, the need was felt for an objective assessment and validation of time tested systems and protocols in vogue on Railway system. In pursuance of these objectives, the above mentioned High Level Safety Review Committee has been constituted by the Ministry of Railways.