Rlys committed to better service and safety in New Year: VK Yadav
New Delhi: Railways declared year 2020 as the 'Year of Grit and Victories' and said it is committed to providing better service to passengers, making sure their safety in the coming times. While briefing the achievements and initiative of the national transporter in the ousted year, CEO Rail Board Vinod Kumar Yadav mentioned that the safety of the passengers and safe upkeep of railways assets is the topmost priority of railways.
For the first time, ever since April 2019, there has been no passenger fatality in train accidents. Especially, through the various safety measures undertaken like, elimination of unmanned level crossings (UMLC) on Broad Gauge network (3,479 in 2018-19 compared to 1,565 in 2017-18), accelerated elimination of manned level crossing Gates (1,274 in 2019-20 compared to 631 in 2018-19), complete switchover to safe manufacturing of LHB coaches, track renewal and rehabilitation of bridges (1,367 in FY 2019-20 compared to 1,000 in 2018-19) etc.
According to the ministry data, accidents progressively reduced from 107 in 2015-16 to 55 in 2019-20, (12 up to December 2020). Indian railways further plan for evaluating Indigenous Train Collision Avoidance System, complete mechanised maintenance and inspection for tracks and bridges, and elimination of mechanical signalling by a couple of years to make the travel safer and passenger-friendly.
Though it's been a tough time due to the ongoing pandemic crisis world-wide, Railways claimed of using the COVID challenge as an "opportunity to lay the foundation for future development and next level of travelling experience for passengers". It operated 4621 Shramik Special Trains, where 63.1 lakh migrant workers were ferried. Further, 1.85 crore meals were distributed free and 2.21 crore water bottles supplied free. 5601 coaches were converted to COVID centres across the country for additional medical assistance to the government, 17 rail hospitals dedicated to COVID diagnose with 5000 beds. Also, 33 isolated hospital blocks were reserved for COVID care.
Adding, 1100 special trains, 618 festival trains, 3936 suburban trains, 264 Kolkata Metro trains and 138 passenger trains were operated country-wide.
Expressing gratitude towards the employee, Yadav mentioned, "Railway employees maintained supply lines during the lockdown. It ensured the supply of medical kits and even supplied free meals to the needy during the lockdown." "Kisan Rail is now running on nine routes and 27,000 tonnes of agro products have been transported so far," he added while addressing the virtual press conference.
However, the railways' passenger revenue has come down to just Rs 4,600 crore this year compared to Rs 53,000 crore of last year, a slide of 87 per cent. The ministry claimed of several expenditure-control measures and freight revenue earnings will help compensate for the losses in the passenger segment.
"So far Indian Railways has spent 12 per cent less than last year. We have controlled our expenditure and since few trains are operational, we are saving on fuel and inventory. Despite COVID-19, we will meet our operating expenditure from our revenue," CEO of Rail Board asserted.
But at the same time, focusing on the freight loading achievement, Yadav said, since August, there has been a steady growth in freight loading of 15 per cent. Hopefully, by the end of this year, Indian Railways will be able to achieve 98 per cent of the last year despite the pandemic crisis.
Further, the national transporter is focusing more on indigenous production. The import in procurement reduced from 5.6 per cent in 2013-14 to 2.5 per cent in 2018-19. More than 95 per cent of Electric Locomotive components were sourced indigenously in last one year.
The Banaras Locomotive Works (BLW) exported 7 Diesel Locomotives to the Sri Lankan Railways recently. Also, there is an increase in Electric Locomotive Production by 30 per cent, LHB coaches production increased by 42 per cent and axle capacity of Rail Wheel Factory (RWF) is being enhanced. The Rail Ispat Nigam Ltd coming up at Rae Bareli for indigenous production of wheels and track machines are being manufactured indigenously in Faridabad (Haryana), Karjan (Gujarat) and Bangalore (Karnataka).
Importantly, the rail board chief also mentioned that by April 2023, the national transporter will commence the operation of private trains with PPP partnership in New Delhi- Mumbai and New Delhi-Howrah route initially.