Indian Railways (IR) has announced that it will recruit approximately 2,00,000 employees over the next few years, in a bid to improve the efficiency of its safety and ground patrolling divisions, says a report .
The tragedy last week which claimed 22 lives has reignited the debate over lack of safety in Indian railways. According to the news report, about 650 people have lost their lives in train accidents over the last three years. It adds that nearly 16% of the safety posts at IR, mostly at lower levels, are lying vacant; putting excessive pressure on the patrolling and maintenance staff to monitor and remedy the 64,000 km long track network spread across the country. This often leads to security lapses, as is evident from reports which suggest that the accident last week could have been averted, had protocol and safety checks been followed rigorously.
IR has also come under fire for failing to effectively use technology to increase safety and efficiency. “The national transporter will invest Rs 15,000 crore in the current fiscal to fix the snags on its network. This amount is separate from the money spent on modernization. This will purely be spent on track renewal,” a rail official said. He added that the recruitment drive will focus on filling posts in safety and maintenance category, and gangmen (employees who patrol and fix tracks) will be trained according to international standards. There are also plans to acquire over 100 track inspection vehicles. “A fund namely ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ (RRSK) has been created for financing critical safety related works... New technologies like condition based monitoring system for rolling stock and track and ultrasonic broken rail detection system will be piloted on the network” the officer is stated saying in the report.
The issue is unlikely to fade from public discourse anytime soon, as at the time of writing this update, news reports regarding another train derailment accident this morning in Uttar Pradesh had started pouring in.