Railways at ‘critical juncture’, safety to be priority: Ashwani Lohani
New Delhi: Safety will be the focus area of the Indian Railways, which is at a critical juncture and faces an “image perception” problem, newly appointed Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani has said.
Lohani said in a letter to employees on Monday that Indian Railways had suffered a “serious dent” in the recent past due to “certain unfortunate incidents”.
Lohani’s letter dated 28 August—before the fourth derailment in 10 days on Tuesday morning—also indicated at reforms in the country’s largest passenger carrier.
“At this critical juncture, when we are facing a serious issue with the image perception of the Railways, I expect all my fellow railwaymen to pitch in wholeheartedly to set this perception right,” Lohani wrote.
The former Air India chairman and managing director made it clear that safety would be the principal focus area of the public sector behemoth which carries nearly three crore passengers per day.
“We have to always be on our guard to ensure the highest level of safety in train operations and instil a renewed sense of confidence in our esteemed passengers.
“The great Indian railways has suffered a serious dent in the recent past due to certain unfortunate incidents. Such incidents often overshadow the great work that this organisation performs day in and day out,” Lohani wrote.
He also identified quality of catering, linen and cleanliness, which he said was crying for attention, as other areas of concern and stressed on the need to adopt a mission mode to bring improvements in a very short time.
“Our operating ratio needs to be brought down considerably, not only by reducing expenditure but by increasing freight loading and also finding other means of non-conventional revenue generation to achieve a spurt in revenues,” he added.
In the fourth train derailment in the country in 10 days, the engine and nine coaches of the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed between Vasind and Asangaon stations in Maharashtra on early Tuesday following a landslide. There were no reports of any injuries.
On 19 August, 14 coaches of the high-speed Kalinga Utkal Express jumped the tracks, with one of them crashing into a house adjacent to the track near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district; the mishap claimed 23 lives and injured over 60 people.
On 23 August, about 100 passengers were injured when 10 coaches of the Kaifiyat Express train derailed in UP’s Auraiya district after crashing into a dumper which strayed on to the tracks.
On 25 August, six coaches of the Andheri-bound local train derailed in Mumbai, injuring six passengers.