Railway ministry seeks Rs 20
lakh crore as safety fund
Thursday, February 4, 2010 2:35 IST
New Delhi: With less than a month for the Union Budget, the railway ministry has swung into action on the safety front. The Mamata Banerjee-led ministry, which saw three train mishaps in one day last month, is planning to revive the special railway safety fund with a proposal sent to the finance ministry for Rs 20,000
Explaining the rationale behind the demand for an increase in the safety fund, a railway ministry official said, The Rs 17,000-crore corpus for rail safety operations has been exhausted. We are now managing safety related works through our internal resources.
The dedicated safety fund was set up in 2003 with a corpus of Rs 17,000 crore for a period of 10 years. Of this, the central government chipped in Rs 12,000 crore while the balance Rs 5,000 crore was raised by the Railways through a surcharge on fares. The proposed Rs 20,000 crore will be utilized towards upgrade and maintenance of tracks and signalling system, said an official close to the development.
The fund has been utilized by the ministry to ensure safety on four fronts, namely derailments, collisions, level-crossing accidents and fire accidents.
To avoid derailments, the funds have been spent on replacement of tracks and rolling stock, track circuiting for safe train operations and introduction of self-propelled accident relief medical vans.
On the collision front, the Railways have invested on extensive training for the operations staff, maintenance and safety checks, design of rolling stock and installation of anti-collision devise (ACD).
ACD has been installed on 1,900 km route in the northeast frontier railway zone and 800 km on Konkan railway. Both are now undergoing trials. Also, the ministry has decided to extend ACD to southern, south central and south western railway zones on trail basis.
Meanwhile, the safety scheme initiated seven years ago has borne fruit for the Railways. The number of collisions has reduced from 30 in 2001-02 to 13 in 2008-09. Similarly, derailments have dropped sharply from 280 in 2001-02 to 85 in 2008-09.