Increasing accidents: PMO seeks railway safety plan

New Delhi: Amid concerns over increasing number of train accidents, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought a detailed safety plan from the Railways.

"A detailed safety plan is being readied to be submitted to the Prime Minister`s Office shortly," a source in the Railway Ministry said.

The Prime Minister asked for the report after derailment of the Howrah-Kalka Mail on July 10 in which 69 passengers were killed and around 240 others were injured.

The major train mishap occurred three days after 32 people were killed when the Mathura-Chapra Express rammed into a bus on an unmanned level crossing on July 7.

According to the safety plan to be submitted to the PMO, the various safety-related works required for the Railways are to the tune of around Rs 70,000 crore, the source said.

The safety plan gives details of measures needed to prevent accidents, such as installation of anti-collision device and train protection warning system, elimination of unmanned level crossings, mechanised maintenance of tracks, upgradation of signal and telecommunication, induction of crash-worthy LHB coaches and upgradation of locomotives.

Since the safety related works is estimated to cost about Rs 70,000 crore, the Railways is looking for a generous grant from the exchequer outside the rail budget, the source added.

There is growing concern about the maintenance of railways` vast tracks and the slow pace of installation of anti-collision devices and train protection warning systems.

The last few years have seen minimal investment in safety infrastructure due to poor financial health of the Railways.

Currently, the Railways have vacancies for 1,26,044 posts in the safety category and 14,896 for unmanned level crossings across the country.

However, a senior railway official said the upgradation of safety measures is a continuous process and steps are underway to enhance rail safety.