New Delhi: The Railways announced on Tuesday a slew of initiatives against smoking and carrying inflammable items, which were apparently the cause behind some of the recent fires on board trains.

The national transporter has instructed zonal railways to initiate intensive awareness drive of seven days to educate all the stakeholders, including railway users and employees, about precautions to be taken against fire incidents.

Carrying inflammable objects in trains is a punishable offence under Section 164 of the Railways Act and the offender may get an imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both, and a fine of Rs 500 is applicable under Section 165.

In a directive, the Railway Board said these include enforcing the 'no-smoking' rule, preventing carriage of inflammable material through rail, creating awareness through distribution of leaflets, pamphlets, pasting of stickers; conducting street plays, announcement through public address system at stations, and advertisement in print, electronic and social media.

The directives come after an initial report on the fire on board the Delhi-Dehradun Shatabdi Express found the cause to be a burning cigarette being thrown into a toilet dustbin.

"In the view of incidents of fire resulting in loss of property and danger to life in various zonal railways, out of which few incidents appeared to have been caused by smoking onboard or transportation of inflammable material by the train.

"To curb such incidents, Indian Railways launched a massive drive against smoking and carriage of inflammable material through Railways. The above drive has been launched from March 22 (Monday)," the Railways said.

Instructions have also been given to zonal railway to conduct intensive drives against smoking in trains and railway premises, and violators may be booked under relevant provisions of Railways Act or Tobacco Act.

"An officer not below the rank of ticket collector of the commercial department or an officer of equivalent rank of operating department or an officer not below the rank of ASI in RPF have been notified as competent to act under the provisions of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003," it said.

It also suggested regular checks in trains against carriage of inflammable and explosive goods, including pantry cars (for carriage of LPG cylinders) and violators may be booked under relevant sections of the Railways Act.

Regular checks may be undertaken in platforms, yards, washing lines, stables, coaches to check cases of lighting fire, using stoves for cooking food, collection of inflammable debris among others.

The fuelling points may also be covered under these checks. Legal action may be taken against the culprits. Action against vendors using stoves in train and at platforms may also be taken, it said.