Railway Accident reports to be made public

New Delhi: Starting this year, the Commission of Railway Safety is set to make railway accident reports public. This is expected to introduce transparency and build public trust.

Prashant Kumar, Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety, which is under the Civil Aviation Ministry, told that this is in keeping with the international practice.

All the rail safety regulators of the European countries put their investigation reports in the public domain, said Carolyn Griffiths, Chief Inspector, Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), the UK’s Railway safety regulator. “We put our records in the public domain because the law says so. We believe other Railways can learn by reading our report. We also investigate Northern Ireland, metro, tramways, and there are lessons that can go across the domains. Also, I believe public should trust what goes on,” said Griffiths, who is visiting India for a lecture at the Institution of Engineering Technology.

On safety reports of the Indian Railways, Kumar said that earlier they did not put the reports in the public domain as they used to name individuals responsible for accident. “But now, we have decided to put the reports without naming individuals. This is important to gain public trust. But, we will take prior approval from the Railways as it is the key stakeholder,” said Kumar.

The UK’s rail safety regulator also does not name anybody. “Our investigations are done only for safety, and for the railway workers. We report the incident faithfully. We don’t go into naming and blaming. Our reports can’t be used in courts or in liability cases,” said Griffiths.

However, Griffiths conceded that the very nature of their job — that of investigating an accident — involved some level of blame, be it a post or an institution.