Rail safety concerns trail freight corridor; directives issued to use DFCCIL network for passenger trains

Parliamentary standing committee report says should be inspected by CRS as it runs parallel to passenger network, and can also be used for passenger trains during emergency.

Kamal MishraUpdated: Saturday, September 17, 2022, 10:30 PM IST
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The Parliamentary Standing Committee on tourism and transport has pointed out that 80 per cent of the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) lines run parallel to main lines, posing a serious threat to passenger safety.

As per the report, the Railway Board has also issued directives to use the DFCCIL network for passenger trains in case of an emergency that does not have any specific duration.

With codal provisions calling for inspection of all lines for passenger trains by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), the aforementioned scenario indicates that even DFCCIL lines should be opened up after statutory inspections by the CRS. The report states that this issue has been taken up with the Ministry of Railways. A copy of the report is in the possession of the Free Press Journal.

As per the report, rules and regulations are defined for passenger trains but no such regulation exists for the DFCCIL or goods trains. This is significant in view of the recent three freight corridor accidents where the damages appear to be much higher than the threshold limit of Rs 2 crore.

The report reads, “…No intimation was given to the CRS, which comes under the Ministry of civil aviation. The commission has already made a reference to the Railway Board but neither any action has been taken nor any reply has been received so far.”

In 2018, the Ministry of Railways amended the rules for opening a rain line without considering the opinion of the CRS. One of the important amendments was conferment of power to condone infringements. Earlier, this power was vested with the ministry with the recommendation of the CRS and CCRS (Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety). The safety implications of this amendment were also pointed out to the ministry. The commission, as per the report, is still of the opinion that this amendment is not in the interest of safety, which must take precedence over expediency. “Hence, the earlier system should be restored,” the report points out.

The standing committee has also expressed a serious concern at the disregard shown by the Railway Board towards the recommendations/suggestions of the CRS, which has specifically been set up to provide technical guidance on matters relating to railway safety.

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