January 18, 2016 1:54:15 pm
The Ambala division of the Northern Railways is focusing on the safety of passengers and the execution of the sanctioned work. Divisional Railway Manager, Dinesh Kumar, in an interview to Adil Akhzer, talks about the upcoming projects.
Last month, the Railways cancelled several trains, leading to public outrage. Why was such a decision taken?
Whenever there is fog, trains get delayed, sometimes by as many as 10 hours. This leads to inconvenience of passengers. Over the last two years, the general opinion has been that trains should either run on time or be cancelled, which is why the railway board decided to decrease the number of trains so that all trains run on time.
But this year the weather’s quite sunny.
Yes, fortunately, the fog is not that intense this year. The ministry, therefore, restored some important trains.
What steps have been taken by the Railways to ensure the safety of passengers during dense fog?
We have replaced automatic signals with semi-automatic ones. In conditions of dense fog, the speed of a train is reduced to 45 kmph and staff patrols the railway tracks. Also, we use firecrackers to alert train drivers.
How is a fog safety device helpful?
The equipment aids drivers to locate places. But it fails when the visibility is very poor.
A proposal was made to introduce semi-high speed trains in the Ambala division. How is it coming about?
On January 20 and January 21, a three-member team from France will inspect the Ambala-Chandigarh railway track to suggest the required modifications. A semi-high speed train can go up to 200kmph.
When will work on doubling of the Ambala-Chandigarh railway track be completed?
It will be completed by December next year.
The general opinion of passengers is that the quality of food served on the Shatabdi trains is poor. Passengers have even found cockroaches in their meals. How do you intend to address this problem?
The contract for providing food is allotted by the railway headquarters. We already have an online complaint system, but once we receive complaints, we inform the headquarters, which then takes the necessary action. Recently, we imposed a penalty of Rs 3 lakh on a contractor for failing to meet standards.
Under a pilot project, the Railways introduced LED screens on Shatabdi trains. However, not a single train seems to have that facility.
The project was that of the Delhi division. I am not much aware of it.
A proposal was also made for introducing Anubhuti (luxury) trains. What is the status of the project?
Yes, the idea is to improve the interiors of trains. One train has been made, but it has not come to our division. The Railways is working on it.
Is there any plan to add more coaches to the Shatabdi trains in the Ambala division?
The Railways recently added coaches to all the Shatabdi trains. We are also planning to replace one of the power cars of every Shatabdi train with a passenger coach.
After the toy train accident that happened in Kalka last year, what steps have you taken to avoid such incidents?
We have worked on all the shortcomings that could have led to the accident. If the speed of a toy train crosses 23 kmph, it raises an alarm, drawing the attention of the driver. If the speed reaches to 27 kmph, the train will automatically stop. We have also created awareness among the staff.
What action was taken against those found responsible for the accident?
Three of the staff members have been given penalty chargesheets and departmental inquiry is on. I am sure the matter will be taken care of in a month or two.
Have you proposed anything for the Ambala division in this year’s budget?
We have proposed around 10-12 more stoppages and around four-five trains for the division.
What initiatives have you been taking?
Our focus is on improving the amenities for passengers. Safety is also a key area, which we take up weekly. We are planning to extend platforms and keep them clean. Also, Railways will eliminate as many as 96 level crossings in the Ambala division.
The Chandigarh Railway Station lacks security arrangements. What is your take on it?
We have told the Railway Protection Force that there should not be any lack of coordination with the Government Railway Police (GRP). I will tell my security commandant to write to GRP about this issue.
And what about stepping up security at the Ambala station?
We have planned to replace the CCTV cameras that have gone old. There is also a proposal for an integrated security system at the station.
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