PAC advocates Automatic Doors in Suburban Train Coaches

NEW DELHI: The Public Accounts Committee has expressed concern over the large number of deaths of commuters in suburban rail services due to their falling off trains during peak hours and has suggested automatic doors in coaches like those in the Metro.

The Public Accounts Committee in its latest report has advocated for redesigning of the coaches with automatic doors in suburban trains on the lines of Metro coaches.

PAC said it was “shocked and pained” to note that even though 6,000 innocent passengers lose their precious lives and thousands of passengers are maimed every year in Mumbai suburban sections alone, railways remained as a mute spectator to the horrific scenes of such incidents.

The committee has also suggested the number of coaches to be 15 on each train in all the suburban sections.

Taking note of the deaths due to line crossings or trespassing on suburban sections, the committee has suggested for elimination of line crossings by constructing foot overbridges and also constructing boundary walls on both sides of the rail tracks to prevent mishaps.

It has also sought revision of amount of compensation keeping in view irreparable financial and emotional losses suffered by kin of deceased and disabled victims.

The committee observed the decline in number of passengers in suburban trains, mounting operational losses, high number of ticketless travellers and inadequate provision of ticket booking facilities at many suburban stations.

It has recommended railways to exploit commercial publicity potential of suburban trains to generate additional revenue.

The committee has also asked railways to hire an external agency to undertake a study of operations of railways and suggest measures to reduce operation costs at the earliest to make suburban services economically viable.

Seeking a clear distinction between suburban and non- suburban services, it has further advocated separate fund allocation for both sections.

PAC finds irregularities in award of ad contracts in Railways

The same panel headed by the Parliamentarian from the Congress party K.V.Thomas, has found irregularities in award of contracts of advertisements in the Mumbai division of the railways and recommended a CBI inquiry into it.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in its latest report has noted the irregularities in award of contract of advertisements on a first come, first served basis which was prevailing in the Mumbai division for the last 25-30 years.

All contracts which were allotted on the basis of the first come, first served basis for commercial publicity should be terminated with immediate effect, the PAC headed by KV Thomas said in its report.

The committee has found that there was no transparency in award of contracts in Central Railway and Western Railway.

The Mumbai division is part of Central Railway and Western Railway.

Taking note of the alleged fraud in allotment of advertisements and involvement of railway officials which were inquired into by the Central Vigilance Commission and action taken against a few officials, the committee recommended a CBI inquiry to probe.

The CBI inquiry should probe the first come, first served policy in Mumbai division, it said.

The committee is for strict action against erring contractors and officials involved in the alleged fraud.

Unless and until exemplary punishment is awarded to the corrupt officials from the top to the bottom, irregularities in commercial publicity in railways cannot be rooted out, the report said.

It has also highlighted the “lackadaisical attitude” of the railways in utilising its vast resources for generating additional revenue through advertising.

Taking note of the delay in tender finalisation for advertisement at stations, the PAC report said railways have taken longer than the stipulated period of 45 to 90 days and it resulted in losses to the public transporter.

Recommending a review of the process of contract formulation and execution, it has said that railways should “shed the nonchalant approach of condoning delays” in finalisation of contracts owing to precautionary approach.

The committee has also observed the lack of coordination between various zones.

It has suggested railways encourage the zones which earn maximum revenue through commercial publicity by giving them incentives to motivate others.

The PAC has also observed that the menace of unauthorised displays at the stations was a constant source of leakage of revenues of railways.

It has recommended exploring the feasibility of hallmarking of authorised symbols for contracted advertisements to avoid unauthorised hoardings and penalty for unauthorised publicity.