Railways floats global tender for rails to improve track safety
New Delhi: Indian Railways has floated a global tender for procuring 700,000 metric tonnes of rails for track renewal, railway minister Piyush Goyal said while unveiling an employees’ charter for the country’s largest employer.
Track renewal and safety is one of the most important measures being implemented by the railway ministry in the backdrop of several train derailments that the national carrier has witnessed.
“So, seven lakh metric tonne of additional rail (track) is sought to be procured for which a global tender is already been out on the 12th of October,” Goyal said.
Currently, state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) supplies tracks to the national carrier.
The additional rail tracks will help the railways towards clearing the track renewal backlog. The people’s carrier has a track length of around 115,000km, making it the world’s largest railway network under a single management. Of this, the route length—the length of track not including that at yards and railway stations—accounts for 67,312km.
“In some cases I am told that people have been asking for track renewal for many years but because of the shortage of track they have not been able to complete all the necessary works,” Goyal added.
The National Democratic Alliance government unveiled the largest-ever rail budget of Rs1.31 trillion for this financial year, an 8.26% increase over the Rs1.21 trillion allocated to the national carrier in 2016-17. Of this Rs 50,762 crore had been spent till August end.
Goyal said that an employees’ charter was being notified for ensuring time-bound redressal of railways employees’ issues related to dues, entitlements and grievances. The national carrier also plans to notify a charter for rail users within the next one month aimed at improving services on offer.
Indian Railways is the country’s largest employer with 1.4 million personnel. It runs around 20,849 trains daily and transports 23 million passengers and three million tonnes of freight. It operates 10,773 locomotives, 63,046 coaches and 245,000 wagons.
To improve safety, railways has been delegating power. Also, to improve supervision, the railways ministry has increased the posts of additional divisional railway managers in all its divisions.
“GMs (general managers) have been given full powers to sanction out of turn safety related works without any ceiling, within the financial limit set out by Ministry of Finance. DRMs /chief workshop managers (CWMs) have been given powers to re-engage retired railway employees up to 62 years of age against vacancies,” the ministry said in a statement.
Railways also plan to shortly complete the recategorisation of its stations based on passenger footfall, revenue earned, and strategic importance.
Goyal also spoke about restructuring of the railway board.
“As we delegate more powers, we obviously don’t need such a large establishment here. We will be doing more of visionary work and a supervisory or monitoring work. So, we are planning to move more and more functions,” Goyal said.
The move comes at a time when the national carrier plans to spend over Rs15,000 crore in the next 12 months to make train travel safe for passengers—rake maintenance and repair are an important aspect of it.
“I have been told that there are over 90 positions which over the last 30, 40, 50 years...I don’t know how long have been gradually brought into the railway board offices which are being sent back to the various zones,” Goyal said.
“Also, we are restructuring and strengthening various departments here,” he added.
Railways has been looking at innovative measures. The Indian Railways ecosystem can create a million jobs within the next 12 months, Goyal said earlier this month.
As part of this exercise, the national carrier plans to create a sort of a franchisee model wherein local entrepreneurs, by using a smart device, can book tickets at 2,000 railway stations across its network which don’t have a booking office.