Growth in traffic doesn’t match the infrastructure, says Ashwani Lohani

We have identified over 10,000km of railway tracks that need complete screening, the railway board chairman said.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2017 06:54 IST
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Ashwani Lohani,Railways,Indian railways
Railway board chairman Ashwani Lohani.(HT file)

Ashwani Lohani, in a conversation with Faizan Haidar, said inadequate time owing to the high number of trains is aggravating maintenance issues.

What do you think is the reason behind rise in accidents?

We admit that there have been accidents but against the general perception that numbers have increased, the truth is the frequency of accidents are reducing. Against 77 accidents between April 1 and October 31 in 2016, 43 accidents have been reported during the same period this year. The growth in passenger traffic is not matched with the infrastructure. Maintenance of railway tracks are of utmost importance and it won’t be ignored anymore.

How will you ensure tracks are maintained regularly?

We have identified over 10,000km of railway tracks that need complete screening. Many will be replaced. Fearing delay and cancellation, maintenance teams were not getting time to repair the tracks. They used to do the maintenance without getting clearance from the operation team. We have made changes in the processes that were delaying the maintenance. Now, request of maintenance team has to be accepted even if it is causing delay.

Do you think technology will help in preventing accidents?

There are number of alert systems on which we are working. But more than technology, we need to change the way we work. The broken rail detection system was pending for years. We have changed that and delegated powers to junior level.

Is staff shortage also an issue behind the increase in number of rail accidents?

That can be one of the reasons but we are hiring 10,000 gangmen, who are responsible for visiting tracks and ensuring there is no damage. We have ended the VIP culture and removed staff posted at officer’s house. After the Mumbai rail foot over bridge accident, we have increased the fund in safety head, and maintenance of bridge and platforms now comes under safety. These changes will also help.

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 06:52 IST