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Ashwani Lohani in hot seat, faces fresh challenges as Railway Board chairman

Ashwani Lohani faces a big challenge as the government is trying to revamp the world’s fourth-largest rail network that has 12,000 passenger trains and 7,000-odd stations, and carries 23 million passengers each day.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2017 19:39 IST
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Ashwani Lohani,Railway Board,AK Mittal
Ashwani Lohani, chairman and managing director of Air India, at his office in New Delhi.(Virendra Singh Gosain/HT File Photo)

Ashwani Lohani, the chief managing director of national carrier Air India, was appointed chairman of the Railway Board on Wednesday after incumbent AK Mittal resigned citing personal reasons.

Lohani, an Indian Railway Service officer of the 1980 batch, is known to have turned around the ailing state-run airline’s financial health.

The appointments committee of the cabinet cleared Lohani for the post.

According to sources, he enjoys a good rapport with the prime minister’s office.

He faces a bigger challenge now as the government is trying to revamp the world’s fourth-largest rail network that has 12,000 passenger trains and 7,000-odd stations, and carries 23 million passengers each day — equivalent of Australia’s population.

But fatal crashes, poor revenue and work sloth have dented the railways’ credibility.

Hours before Mittal quit and Lohani was appointed his successor, more than 20 people were injured as 10 coaches of the Kaifiyat Express bound for New Delhi jumped tracks after colliding with a dumper in Uttar Pradesh.

Prior to this, over 20 people died after 13 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district on August 19.

During his previous stint with the railways, Lohani handled its mechanical division.

He holds the record of having four engineering equivalent degrees. The record mentions that Lohani, completed four engineering degrees between 1977-79 from Institute of Engineers, Kolkata.

He earned degrees in mechanical, electrical, metallurgical, and electronics and telecommunication engineering.

Lohani was also the director of National Rail Museum and CMD of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation.

He successfully piloted the nomination of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway as a Unesco world heritage site. He was decorated with the railway national award for outstanding performance in 1996.

First Published: Aug 23, 2017 19:03 IST