The days of cosmetic touch-ups in the name of improvement in railway services of the country is now over. The incumbent BJP government has proved that it meant every word when it promised to make the rail travel of the citizens of the country safer and better. Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways have managed to set one of its best safety records during the financial year 2017-18, as claimed by an Indian Express report. As per the report, the Railways has, after 35 years, managed less than a hundred accidents in a financial year. Indian Railways’ safety record in 2017-2018 was best in 57 years.
According to the official data, as of March 30, 73 accidents were reported across the railway network, compared to 104 in the previous fiscal, the lowest in 57 years. The main reason behind the improvement is track renewal, the railways carried out renewal of 4,405 km of old rails in 2017-2018. The old and obscure railway tracks have led to innumerable derailments into the past. Modi government has repeatedly laid emphasis on development and maintenance of tracks along with the upgrade of the signaling system. The huge amounts of funds released by the government in two successful years for the same shows how firm it is on this commitment. The allocation of funds has not only worked for the improvement of the conditions of the track but has also proved wrong the opposition’s claim that inclusion of rail budget in the financial budget would result in the latter overshadowing the former.
Moreover, this fiscal year has also witnessed the longest ever distance covered by the Indian railways. In 1960-61, trains collectively travelled merely 388.1 million train km as compared to 1170.7 million train km in 2017-2018. This train kilometer is the unit of measure of distance which corresponds to the movement of a train over one kilometer. Although trains covering an additional 74 million train km in 2017-2018 as compared to the last five years, under Piyush Goyal’s leadership, accidents have remained at an all-time low. As far as accidents are concerned, while in 1960-61, the number was 2131, it came down to 840 in 1970-71, in 1980-81 it stood at 1,013, in 1990-91 it recorded 532 accidents, in 2010-11 there were 141 such cases, as per the figures. The casualty figures also have gone down. In 2016-17, 607 people were injured or killed in train accidents, in 2017-2018, the number stood at 254. While derailments have come down from 78 in 2016-2017 to 54 in 2017-2018, accidents at level crossings stood at 13 in 2017-2018 as compared to 30 in the previous year.
The railways have also set a milestone in the form of transporting more than 1,160 million tonnes of freight in 2017-18, which is considered as the highest ever. In comparison, the total freight loading in 2016-17 was 1,109 million tonnes. As per the report, the total freight transportation has been on the rise for the last five years.
One of the major initiatives that the railway has undertaken to ensure safety in its operation, include id distribution of over 500 GPS-enabled FOG PASS devices to loco pilots to run trains smoothly in foggy weather. The device displays a map of tracks, signals, stations and level crossings and alerts loco pilot 500 meters ahead, helping him increase or decrease the speed of the train. The railways have also made rapid strides on the construction of various structures such as manned crossings and foot over bridge.
Apart from all these efforts, the railway is also working hard under the guidance of Piyush Goyal to improve catering and ticketing by introducing the aid and assistance of technology to facilitate the same. Henceforth it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Piyush Goyal is one of the most competent and promising ministers this country and the railways has ever had.