The tragic triple prepare collision in Odisha’s Balasore, ensuing within the lack of 288 lives and over 1,000 accidents, has raised issues in regards to the security requirements of Indian Railways. Whereas Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav has promised to unveil a report revealing the foundation explanation for the accident, critics have drawn consideration to an audit report introduced in Parliament final yr. The Comptroller and Auditor Normal of India (CAG), the nation’s prime auditing physique, carried out the report on derailments in Indian Railways and highlighted a number of vital deficiencies in rail security measures.
In line with the CAG report, one of many main causes of the accident was a change in digital interlocking. The Railway Board has additionally offered an in depth account of the sequence of occasions main as much as the crash. The CAG report delved into whether or not the rail ministry had clearly laid down and carried out measures to stop derailments and collisions. It uncovered extreme shortcomings in inspections, failure to submit or settle for inquiry stories after accidents, underutilization of devoted railway funds for precedence duties, declining funding for observe renewal, and inadequate staffing in security operations.
The report highlighted vital deficiencies in inspections by Observe Recording Vehicles, that are important for assessing the geometric and structural circumstances of railway tracks. It revealed shortfalls starting from 30-100% in these inspections. The Observe Administration System (TMS), a web-based software for monitoring observe upkeep actions, additionally got here beneath scrutiny. The report said that the in-built monitoring mechanism of the TMS portal was not operational.
From April 2017 to March 2021, the ‘Engineering Division’ was answerable for 422 derailments. The report recognized ‘upkeep of observe’ because the main explanation for derailments (171 instances), adopted by ‘deviation of observe parameters past permissible limits’ (156 instances). ‘Unhealthy driving/overspeeding’ was one other main contributing issue. The ‘Working Division’ accounted for 275 accidents, with ‘incorrect setting of factors and different errors in shunting operations’ making up 84% of the instances. The report attributed most derailments to failures in 5 key areas, particularly guidelines and joint process orders, coaching and counselling of employees, supervision of operations, coordination and communication between departments, and scheduled inspections.
The report additionally make clear delays in submitting and accepting inquiry stories. In 63% of instances, inquiry stories weren’t submitted throughout the prescribed timeframe, and in 49% of instances, there was a delay within the acceptance of the stories by the authorities.
Moreover, the CAG report highlighted a declining pattern within the total expenditure on precedence duties from the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), a reserve fund established to finance safety-related works. The allocation of funds for observe renewal declined, and the already allotted funds weren’t totally utilized. The report famous that the aim of making a separate devoted fund for safety-related works was defeated as safety-related tasks confronted delays attributable to fund constraints.
The CAG report revealed a major correlation between derailments and observe renewals. Out of the 1,127 derailments that occurred from 2017 to 2021, 289 derailments (26%) have been linked to trace renewals. Moreover, out of the focused 2,908 manned stage crossings for elimination between 2018 and 2021, solely 2,059 (70%) have been eradicated.
Insufficient staffing within the security class was one other concern highlighted within the report. The CAG concluded that steps should be taken to make sure enough employees within the security class to take care of the standard of upkeep actions.
To handle these points, the CAG beneficial that the Railways strictly adhere to scheduled timelines for accident inquiries and their finalization. It additionally referred to as for the event of a sturdy monitoring mechanism to make sure the well timed implementation of upkeep actions. The report emphasised the adoption of totally mechanized strategies of observe upkeep and improved applied sciences.
The CAG report underscored the significance of creating a idiot proof system to study from previous errors and stop the recurrence of derailments. Addressing these deficiencies is essential for Indian Railways to fulfil its predominant goal of making certain passenger security and stopping such tragic incidents sooner or later.