Railways' preparedness for tackling emergencies is not upto the envisaged levels, with less than 25 per cent of the frontline staff trained to handle disasters or mishaps in many divisions, a Parliamentary panel has said.
The committee found that specialised disaster management training courses were poorly attended by the Railway staff.
It also observed that the Railways were neither able to rapidly access the disaster sites nor provide organised rescue and relief operation during the first hour of any mishap.
In most of the railway divisions, less than 25 per cent of the frontline staff were trained to handle disasters or mishaps, it found.
Highlighting the delayed arrival of rescue and relief equipment at disaster sites, the Public Accounts Committee in its latest report noted that this also led to delayed restoration of rail traffic causing diversions and cancellation of trains.
"It was found that provision of rescue and relief equipment such as accident relief trains, accident relief medical vans and self-propelled accident relief trains was inadequate and maintenance was deficient," the panel noted.
The committee also noted that not placing relief equipment strategically in the railway divisions curtailed speedy response to disasters.
Capacity building for emergency preparedness is an integral part of disaster management. Rapid access to the accident site is a fundamental step in providing quick and effective rescue and relief operations within the first hour of the accident, which is called 'golden hour'.
The committee observed that Railways' response to disasters within the golden hour was ineffective, coordination arrangement was poor, preparedness and expertise were lacking while there were other deficiencies like availability of necessary equipment.