The Hyderabad-Deccan English Daily

Accident reduction priority: Pawan Kumar Bansal

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IBNS) Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal while presenting the Railway Budget 2013-14 on Tuesday said rail accidents have come down but he targetted to reduce them further with more measures.

"Safety is a mandate in running trains. There has been a significant reduction in accidents . From .41 per million kms in 2003-04 it has come down to .13 in 2011- 12," he said adding that his ministry will try to work towards a zero accident situation.

He claimed there has been a significant reduction of train accidents.

Elimination of over 10,000 level crossings was promised by the minister who also assure of enhancement of the track capacity and the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS).

He said indigenously developed collision avoidance system will be put on trial while self-propelled accident relief trains along with fast and reliable disaster management system was promised.

The Allahabad stampede that killed many Maha Kumbh pilgrims this month has shaken the railway and so more contingency plans are afoot, said Bansal as he began presenting the Railway Budget 2013-14.

"I am pained by the Allahabad incident," Bansal said adding that it has shaken him and he proposed higher level of contingency arrangement.

He said another eight units of RPF will be set up for women protection from the existing four. He said RPF personnel will be strengthened.

Security helpline numbers in few zonal railways are there, he said.

He assured of more ladies specials in metros.

He said there would be bio-toilets on trains and cleanliness will be priority.

He said Rs 100 crore will be spent to augment facilities at Delhi, New Delhi and Nizamuddin railway stations and special emphasis will be on stations in NCR (National Capital Region).

He also promised Free wi-fi facilities at railway stations.

Bansal said passenger trains has increased from 8000 in 2001 to over 12000 in 2012 in number but losses continue to rise. It is estimated to be Rs 24,000 cr in 2012-13, he said.

"Scarcity of resources continues to star us," he said after beginning his budget speech.

While a hike in railway fares has been the big questions and many say it is necessity to bring back the services on the track, passengers across India said they want better railway facilities.

"We are ready to pay a little extra fare for safety, and cleanliness and improvement in food quality," said 35-year-old Raju Verma, a railway passenger at New Delhi station who arrived from Kolkata.

Diesel price hike in recent times put additional burden on the railway.

Last time the fare was hiked was on Jan 22 to offset the possible Rs 24,000 crore loss in the current financial year.

Media reports said the Railway had targetted to earn additional revenue of Rs 6600 crore in the 2012-13 year but owing to fuel price hike much of the revenue was consumed.



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