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.