Millennium Post

Special service this festive season

At the peak of this festive season, the Indian Railways has made special arrangements to ensure passengers travel hassle-free during the extra rush period. This arrangement comes in the wake of Diwali and Chhath puja following that in a week. In the very considerate move to ensure convenience to the common man, there are special trains introduced on newer tracks and increased bogies in existing routes with a view to meet the travel demand during the festive season. The initial announcement for this development had come on September 19, when Minister of State, Railways, Manoj Sinha said, "In the next 40 days, we will celebrate the Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali, and Chhath. So, we are introducing additional trains to facilitate holiday travelling." The minister added that they will run as many as 4,000 special trains during the Diwali holiday season between October 15 and October 31. The rush of passengers began much before Diwali and the Railways is running in full flow with the rush expected to continue well beyond Diwali with festivals like Bhai Duj and Chhath Puja also around the corner. This festive rush is a common phenomenon and the special strategy to manage it smoothly comes as a major relief to hundreds of commuters.

On a general note, the Indian Railways, however snag-riddled and in need of urgent repair, cater to tens of thousands of commuters every single day. Unfortunately, there have been far too many train accidents owing to human errors lately. It is found the existing system in probing accidents is insufficient and the World Bank has recommended for an independent rail safety regulatory and investigator to be set up, for averting accidents. Taking serious note of the sudden spate of tragedies on tracks, it is a reminder that despite the perils and uncertainties associated with neglect in the railways sectors, it remains a major lifeline for the common people of India. All is not bleak, though. Since mishaps at unmanned level crossings are one of the major reasons for train accidents in India, the Railways had already undertaken steps to eliminate all such crossings by 2020 as part its 'zero accident mission'. An investigation report pertaining to a recent accident further sought for the need to develop a safety culture across the network. Outlining the full support of the staff as the need of the hour to tackle and avert any possibility of an accident, the report said that without their wholehearted support, implementation of any policy or plan would remain a mirage. It may be noted that at present, with a limited power and span of control, the CRS had been assigned to probe all the railway accidents in the country (even though CRS falls under the administrative control of the civil aviation ministry). In April 2017, the then railway minister Suresh Prabhu, had hinted at outsourcing various international agencies for outlining safety measures. The World Bank had also sought for modern equipment to detect rail fracture and paint of locomotives in bright yellow colour on the front to improve their visibility, particularly during the twilight times in the day. It has also asked to establish an emergency response plan to address derailments and fires.
Taking into account some positive changes underway, with initiatives to retrieve lost ground due to past neglect, the Indian Railways stands at the crossroads hoping to reap rewarding results of the efforts it is making to restore and upgrade the ailing Railways. In order to ensure requisite resources for implementing some newly-introduced mega projects that would alter the topography of the Indian railways and its business module in the long run, the Government, in August 2014 notified a slew of areas for foreign direct investment in this sector. These include, among others, suburban corridors through public-private partnership, high-speed train projects, dedicated freight corridors, rolling stocks including trains sets and locomotives/coaches, freight terminal, railway electrification, signaling system, mass rapid transport system and passenger terminal. In a stunning initiative, the NDA government has pulled up its socks to ensure that a decade-long dream of having the first bullet train in India. This undertaking is sure to herald a new era of transport in the country. Modi succinctly underscored the importance and significance of the rail project, the first of its growth-propelling genre, by remarking that "more productivity with high-speed connectivity" is what the nation will gain from the bullet train. The prestigious bullet train will be a game-changer for certain. With these course-altering development projects gathering momentum, there are bright days to look forward to!

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