‘Lack of resources ailing Railways’

‘Lack of resources ailing Railways’

By DIBYENDU MONDAL | New Delhi | 27 August, 2017
Rajya Sabha, Ministry of Railways, Dinesh Trivedi, DRF, Indian railways, GDP, DF
Over 200 “consequential train derailments” had happened in the past three years, in which 333 persons had lost their lives till early August this year, according to data provided to the Rajya Sabha by the Ministry of Railways.

Over 200 “consequential train derailments” had happened in the past three years, in which 333 persons had lost their lives till early August this year, according to data provided to the Rajya Sabha by the Ministry of Railways. This does not include the latest Utkal Express and Kaifiyat Express derailments that took place last week. The derailment of the Utkal Express near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh left 23 dead and over 150 injured. Within four days, another derailment of the Kaifiyat Express was reported from Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya region that left at least 70 injured. This also fueled the resignation of Railway Board chairman Ashok Mittal and acceptance of moral responsibility by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. However, experts on railway safety have cited the lack of resources and investments towards ensuring safety and security infrastructure by Indian Railways as the reason for the Railways’ ailing condition.Dinesh Trivedi, former Railway Minister, told The Sunday Guardian that the Railways have not been prioritising needs, which is making the Railways unable to recognise problems. “Safety and security should be of paramount importance to the Indian Railways rather than focus on cosmetics. When our basic safety structure is not in place and the lives of people travelling by the railways are not safe, what would one do with cosmetic upgradation? Successive governments should take the blame as they have treated the Indian railways as a political tool rather than an asset capable of transporting people and freight and adding at least 2% to our GDP,” Trivedi said.He further added, “The present problem of the railways is that the organisation is on the verge of bankruptcy. My biggest worry is safety as the Depreciation Reserve Fund (DRF) and Development Fund (DF) are getting depleted, since the railways are cash-starved. The railways are not generating enough operating cash surplus to even meet their daily operating expenses. To replace an old asset (tracks, rolling stock or signalling systems), you need to put money in the DRF. On an average, the system requires Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 25,000 crore year after year to replace old assets. Instead, a provision had been made for a mere Rs 3,200 crore for the DRF in the 2016 budget. The much required replacement of old assets has been postponed, knowingly compromising safety.”

 

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