NEW DELHI: Recommending an annual safety cess on passengers to the tune of `5,000 crore, the High Level Safety Review Committee, under the Chairmanship of Dr Anil Kakodkar on Friday submitted its report to Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi advising him to invest `20,000 crore to upgrade rail safety every year for the next five years.
Trivedi had constituted the committee in September last year after a series of train accidents resulted in many casualties. Key observations of the committee included how the Indian Railways was top heavy with few officials at the execution-level. Their firm advice was to stop introduction of new trains until rail infrastructure was upgraded.
“Commissioners of Railway Safety, though considered to be the safety watchdogs, have negligible role at the operational level.
Compliance of safety standards set by Railways for themselves are often flouted for operational exigencies,” the committee report said.
To curb the number of accidents, Kakodkar has advised complete elimination of level-crossings across the country. “This can be done within 5 years at an estimated cost of `50,000 crore which will get recovered over 7-8 years due to saving in operation and maintenance costs and improved train operations,” Kakodkar said.
He also noted that Indian Railways suffered from ‘Implementation Bug’ wherein many such recommendations made by past committees but not implemented properly. Trivedi assured that the best from the report will be taken forward lest he will quit his portfolio.
Presenting a budget for safety, the safety committee has said that a Safety Cess from passengers could be charged to collect `5,000 crore every year.