CRS pitches for ‘Coach Mitra’ app for rly track maintenance works

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Sep 2017 09:59:59


By Sagar Mohod,

Northern Railway Zone CRS S K Pathak has recommended five-point charter in aftermath of derailment of Utkal Exp

Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Northern Railway Zone, has recommended the establishment of a formal code for track maintenance works. CRS S K Pathak who is conducting statutory inquiry into causes of derailment of Puri-Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express has suggested developing an App, ‘Coach Mitra’ so that in aftermath of any mishap the digital footprint could be valuable source to determine exact cause. More simply it can be easy to fix the responsibility so that proper record is available and one who is responsible can be taken-up by authorities.

The derailment of Utkal Express caused tremendous upheaval in Railway establishment leading to resignation of Chairman Railway Board (CRB) A K Mittal. Even Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu owning moral responsibility offered to quit. About 23 passengers were killed in the derailment. Hence the Utkal Express derailment has suddenly assumed importance even as Railways have summarily dismissed 13 employees, including a Junior Engineer, for lapses resulting in derailment.

CRS has communicated a five point recommendation to General Manager, Northern Railway as well as to Railway Board, for latter so that a functional system can be brought by national carrier to avoid such causal approach to system governing blocks. The incident lead to outrage throughout the country, especially after an audio surfaced about denial of block by Operating Control despite being informed about the emergency situation.

Even after denial of block, given the urgency of situation the Engineering Branch team, the JE and gangmen risked unauthorised repairs of the track which they failed to complete before arrival of Utkal Express, reveals the information coming from Ground Zero in aftermath of primary probe.

The App can come handy for formally demanding, granting of the maintenance blocks. It can sound alert to all stakeholders for block demanded, block granted, block denied and block not availed, thereby having record of every procedure. This would ensure tracking of block demanded and its fulfillment and also of quality of work done. In fact, a proper system of logging the block request from maintenance staff and its grant/non-grant by station and control staff should also be put in place.

CRS also want refusal of the block be decided at appropriate level to avoid inciting staff from doing unsafe working. He also desired issuance of clear cut instructions on part of Railway Administration for the same.
First and foremost, it is suggested that a safety drive as per GR Para 15.08 before undertaking operations/works that have potential to obstruct the line.

This suggestion is to have a fail safe mechanism to ensure all the standardised measures are in place before granting blocks for maintenance of tracks. How practical this mechanism can be introduced is a big question, since line capacity of maximum rail network is already under pressure.

In his communication to General Manager, Northern Railway, CRS Pathak has further said a defined Integrated Corridor Block System (ICBS) must be introduced and also be undertaken with full sincerity. The block could be either of minimum four hours or two blocks of two and half hours duration.

Last but not the least Railway Administration should develop a module for periodic training to Control Staff about understanding and mitigating the difficulties faced by field staff to ensure safe train operation.
It remains to be seen what steps are taken by Railways to implement it. This mechanism can also be taken-up at all India level to prevent recurrence of derailment due to operational difficulties.

Safety to be major topic in meeting of Ashwani Lohani with GM of 16 zones Safety is going to overweigh all other concerns as Chairman Railway Board (CRB) Ashwani Lohani holds his maiden discussion with General Managers of 16 Zones of Indian Railways on September 16 at Rail Bhawan, New Delhi. Although a host of issues have been listed in agenda, but safety is going to be topmost as spate of derailments have brought back focus on train operations.

About 10 items has been listed for day long deliberations with GM (open lines) as CRB takes stock of framing a policy and putting in place mechanism to streamline Railways functioning. Also on agenda is matter relating to cleanliness of trains, station and work places, as this issued has been taken-up by Union Government as one of its top priority.
The other issues to be discussed with GMs include catering and lines, staff welfare measures, inspection/field visits. One of the important point seems to be delegation of power and simplification of procedures as CRB is desirous of fast tracking decision making process.

Another important point is about image makeover, as over last few months Indian Railways has been painted as villain and a PR strategy could evolve through the discussion. The other topic is that of controlling corruption which CRB has flagged and highlighted as priority and about which he has personally listed putting end to gift culture during Diwali time and ending parties post inspections etc. Apart from that the important performance parameters including earnings, freight loading, punctuality, unnecessary protocol are also on cards.

The agenda circulated to GM have called for individual presentation of priority issues of respective Zones, along with steps taken to decentralise power to Divisional Railway Manager and Branch Officers.