Piyush Goyal tightens reins on Railways, gives top priority to safety
Mumbai: Tightening the reins on the railway administration, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal here on Saturday announced slew of measures according topmost priority to passenger safety in the wake of Friday's stampede which killed 23 Mumbai commuters.
Chairing a high-level meeting comprising officials of the Railway Board, top officials of Western Railway and Central Railway for the second day on Saturday, Goyal carried out a comprehensive review of the safety measures not only for the Mumbai suburban railways, but the entire Indian Railway network.
Among the decisions taken were to term foot overbridges (FOB), platforms and pathways on platforms as 'Safety Items' having highest priority with no budgetary restrictions.
This overturns a 150-year old edict in which the first FOB was counted as 'essential' and the subsequent one/s as 'passenger amenity'.
For the next 18 months, the General Managers of all Railway Zones have been vested with unlimited powers for safety related issues, Goyal said.
The GMs shall intimate the Financial Commissioner (FC) within a week of sanction for provision and the latter would confirm it within 15 days, and in case of disagreements, the Railway Board would intervene and decide within the same 15 days.
While 200 officers from the headquarters would be deployed in the field to strengthen ground operations and project implementation, 75 bright and dynamic Station Directors shall be posted at key stations all over the country to bring vibrancy to the operations, he added.
"Additional escalators sanctioned at crowded Mumbai suburban stations with high commuter rush with details to be finalized within 15 days and thereafter for all high traffic stations," the Railway Minister added.
For enhanced safety, eight railway yards shall be among 40 taken up all over India for upgradation with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore, Goyal announced.
Within 15 months, work on installing CCTV cameras in all suburban trains in Mumbai with a monitoring mechanism will be taken up and parallel work will be initiated across India.
Goyal earlier ordered setting up of multi-disciplinary teams to visit and inspect all the 135 stations on the Mumbai suburban network and identify areas of concern, critical locations prone to similar (stampede) situations and draw up action plans to address them.
Ongoing works on foot overbridges at various stations would be completed on a war-footing and additional FOBs would be immediately planned out at other stations where passenger traffic is high.
The Western Railway and Central Railway have been directed to resolve within one week all their pending issues with other concerned agencies like Maharashtra government, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, City and Industrial Development Corporation, etc.
He also said that any concessions required to accommodate space constraints at railway platforms would be sorted out immediately.
There are around 135 stations on the entire suburban network, comprising WR, CR and the Harbour Line, spread across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts, catering to over eight million suburban commuters daily.
The distances covered are upto 123 km on the WR from its starting point, Churchgate, and more than 70 km on the CR in different directions from the starting point Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
The two networks share one common railway station, Dadar which is considered the busiest and most congested on the entire suburban network.