NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Railways has swung into action to improve its safety infrastructure, especially railway tracks and signalling system.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had sent the proposal to the Ministry of Finance to set up the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh of Rs 1.19 lakh crore about three months ago. Agreeing to the proposal, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced setting up of a Railway Safety Fund, with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore in five years, while presenting the Budget for 2017-18.
The Ministry of Railways has signed an MoU with Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane Group (FS Group), an Italian government company, which manages the Italian railway sector, for technical cooperation in the rail sector, especially in areas of safety in train operations.
According to a senior official in the ministry, the cooperation areas include safety audit of Indian Railways and measures required for enhancing safety in train operation, assessment and certification of advanced technology-based safety products and systems to Safety Integrity Level (SIL), training and competency development with focus of safety, modern trends in maintenance and diagnostic etc. The official said the minister is laying emphasis on safety in railway operations for which the Railway Board has been directed to collaborate with international experts on this subject and identify the best practices in this filed.
Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane Group (FS Group) is a fully owned company of the Italian government working in the railway sector and is under Ministry of Treasure, Italy. The group, with its technical and managerial railway expertise, widely recognised at international level, is one of the most advanced global players in many fields, such as design and realisation of high seed and conventional lines, safety systems, certification, training and operation and maintenance. The group employs about 69,000 persons and operates over 7,000 trains per day, carrying over 600 million per year of passengers and 50 million tonnes of freight on a railway network of more than 16,700 km.
The group, through its controlled companies, has been working in more than 60 countries.
FS Italiane has controlled companies in many countries including France, Germany and Serbia, among others. It is to be noted that a High Level Safety Review Committee (HLSRC) under the chairmanship of Anil Kakodkar, former chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, was constituted in 2011 to look into all technical and technology related aspects for safe running of trains. The committee submitted its report in February 2012. However, the then UPA II government did nothing on this recommendation.
However, Prabhu been laying emphasis on safety ever since he has joined office. Now, with these fresh initiatives, train journey, hopefully, will become safer. The ministry is also working on other measures like Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) on high density network, elimination of unmanned level crossings in a phased manner. TCAS is a radio communication based system with continuous update of movement authority. This system is aimed at providing capability of preventing train accidents caused due to signal passing at danger or non-observance of speed restrictions by train drivers.