New Delhi: The Northern Railway Men’s Union today alleged that the railways was not carrying out maintenance and repair work in a timely manner and ignoring unsafe operations, charges that come in the backdrop of several high-profile train derailments.
The union’s General Secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said here in a press conference here that they had serious concerns over railway safety works and flagged a number of issues related to personnel and maintenance.
“It is pertinent for operational safety that necessary equipments, important machine parts and trained employees are available in required numbers in a timely manner.
“However, unfortunately, over time the increase in number of trains and the pressure of rising traffic has led to the non-availability of timely blocks for maintenance and repair work. In fact because of this even unsafe railway operations are being ignored,” said a statement issued by the union.
Mishra said that due to shortage of rail staff and equipments, renewal of old tracks and track repair work was not being done in a time-bound manner.
He said the railways should call back the 30,000 odd staff employed at officials’ homes doing household work.
“Many of them are trackmen. The CRB had also instructed that they be relieved and sent to official rail duty. This has also caused shortage of staff,” he said.
Blaming the recent train derailments on lack of maintenance, Mishra said that the railways’ decision to not hire staff over the past two years besides shortage in necessary equipment are the reasons behind rail accidents.
“If there are problems in rail safety then rail employees cannot be made responsible for the incidents,” he said.
The union’s general secretary claimed that the railways had violated the natural course of justice by sacking 13 men after the Khatauli accident in August without an inquiry.
“As per railway manual 14(ii)B it’s unconstitutional to dismiss employees without enquiry. In this incident these men were summarily sacked without any such probe.
He also raised serious concerns over outsourcing of railway safety work to private contractors and said that the employees on hire didn’t have technical knowledge to do the work.
There was no immediate reaction from the railways.
Over the past three months, the public transporter has been struggling with a slew of accidents, the worst being the one on August 19 in which at least 23 people were killed and 40 injured when 14 coaches of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district.
On September 29, safety concerns were raised again when a stampeded at a foot-over-bridge in Mumbai led to the deaths of 23 people.