First tranche of railway safety fund may be allocated in Budget

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In its two-year report card, the Narendra Modi government had claimed credit for fewer rail accidents and lower casualties. This time, Indian railway minister Suresh Prabhu may paper over the transporter's safety record. His officers are themselves surprised over three major accidents in a span of two months, which have claimed close to 190 lives, compared to 309 in 2015-16.



With its record under the lens, the pressure will now be on the proposed 1 lakh crore dedicated fund for safety, which was announced over a year ago and conceived almost five years ago. While the railway is keen to show safety-related expenses have not been compromised, officials admit it is likely that the first allocation of - 20,000 crore -for the dedicated fund comes in the budget.



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Over five years, the government is hoping to chip in with 1 lakh crore and raise more money from states and the central road fund, used to build railway overbridges. Of the 8.56 lakh crore to be invested by the railways over five years, 1.27 lakh crore, which is less than 15% of the plan, is to go towards safety. Traditionally, railways have been accused of being slow in replacing worn out assets, some of which date back to the British era. There are bridges, some unsafe, that date back a centuryCash-strapped railways has often being accused of being conservative in allocating funds for track maintenance and employing more gangmen and trackmen for regular check ups. The brass is often accused by lower rung employees of just sitting at the headquarters.

“Funds have been a problem but the Railway Research Designs and Standards Organisation has also slowed down adoption of new technology ,“ said an official.


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Courtesy : TOI

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