New Indian Railways chief Ashwani Lohani vows safety overhaul
As new rail boss takes charge, 10 coaches of Duronto Express derail after landslide
New Delhi: Declaring that “safety” will be his top priority, newly appointed Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani has urged railways employees to pitch in wholeheartedly to set right the serious issue of image perception.
Lohani, who took over as the new CRB on August 24, in a letter to all railway employees on Monday said Indian Railways had suffered a “serious dent in the recent past due to certain unfortunate incidents”.
“At this critical juncture when we are facing a serious issue with the image perception of the railways, I expect all my fellow railwaymen to pitch in wholeheartedly to set this perception right,” Lohani wrote.
Lohani was appointed the new CRB after A.K. Mittal stepped down following two major accidents in Uttar Pradesh that claimed 22 lives and left over 200 people injured.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, 10 coaches including the engine of Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express derailed between Vasind and Asangaon stations in Maharashtra following a sudden landslide. However, no passengers were injured in the accident.
He emphasised the need to be always on guard and instill a renewed sense of confidence in the railways.
“Safety shall always remain our principal focus area. We have to always be on our guard to ensure the highest level of safety in train operations and instill a renewed sense of confidence in our esteemed passengers,” he said.
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Referring to the three major derailments in the last 15 days, Lohani said: “The great Indian Railways has suffered a serious dent in the recent past due to certain unfortunate incidents. Such incidents often overshadow the great work that this organisation performs day in and day out.”
Pointing to the cleanliness at the railway stations, and quality of catering and linen provided on trains, Lohani said: “Cleanliness at stations and on trains is another area that is crying for attention and often contributes to our image.”
“We have to work in a mission mode to bring about quantitative and qualitative improvements in a very short time frame in these areas,” he said.
The former Air India chief also said that the operating ratio of railways needs to be brought down considerably, not only by reducing expenditure but by increasing freight loading and also finding other means of non-conventional revenue generation to achieve a spurt in revenues.
Lohani also urged the railway employees to avoid frills in the form of bouquets, gifts, lavish celebrations and excessive protocols.
He also said that evils of corruption, sexual harassment at workplace and alcohol abuse while on duty will be dealt firmly with an “iron hand”.
On August 19, 14 coaches of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, in which 22 people died and over 100 people were injured.
On August 23, over 100 passengers were injured when 14 coaches of the Kaifiyat Express train derailed in Auraiya district in Uttar Pradesh after hitting a dumper.
On August 25, four coaches of the Andheri-bound local train derailed near Mahim in Mumbai, injuring six passengers.