Parliamentary panel critical of Railways' safety measures

 Taking note of the fact that more than 50 per cent of all rail accidents occur at level crossings, a Parliamentary committee today said Railways is not addressing the issue seriously.

PTI| Last Updated: Dec 18, 2014, 22:34 PM IST

New Delhi: Taking note of the fact that more than 50 per cent of all rail accidents occur at level crossings, a Parliamentary committee today said Railways is not addressing the issue seriously.

Standing Committee on Railways in its latest report tabled in Parliament today has also not agreed with railways' stand that the main factor responsible for the high rate of accidents at level crossings is a result of the negligence of road users.

The 24-member committee headed by TMC MP and former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi is critical of the fact that out of total 31,254 level crossings across India, 12,582 level crossings remain unmanned even today.

The panel blamed railways for its "lackadaisical approach" on a very "serious safety issue" and noted that utilisation of funds on safety category has fallen short of allocation by upto 40 per cent in all years from 2008-09 to 2012-13.

It has found that the progress of manning of unmanned level crossings has been woefully inadequate with only 2,310 of the 5,351 level crossings identified having been actually manned, the report said.

The committee is distressed to note the slow process with regard to elimination of unmanned level crossings where only 5,400 of total of 12,582 unmanned level crossings have been eliminated in the last 6 years through manning and closure provision of ROB/RUB.

"At this pace" the Committee asked "how railways would be able to keep their commitment of eliminating all level crossings by 2020 as reflected in their Vision 2020 document."

The committee has asked railways to take up the matter with increased urgency and vigour with effective coordination with state governments to ensure that the targets set are achieved within the time-frame.

The committee has also found that currently 5,209 vacancies exist for the posts of gateman or staff manning level crossings and observed that such a scenario is not at all desirable or satisfactory and suggested recruitment to be done in urgent manner.