Safey major area of concern for Railways: Batra
New Delhi, Apr 13 (UNI) Pointing out that safety remained a major area of concern, Railway Board Chairman J P Batra today assured that greater use of latest technology would be made to reduce the train accident rate and instill confidence among the travelling public.
The number of collisions had come down from 13 last year to nine during the current year while derailments had also registered a decline from 138 to 131, Mr Batra said.
''However, accidents at manned level crossings and cases of fire in trains are an area of concern where concentrated efforts are being made to achive better safety standards,'' said Mr Batra, who was the chief guest at a function where 75 Railway Board officers and staff were awarded for their efficient performance.
The Railway Board Chairman, in his inaugural address, also urged railwaymen to introspect on their shortcomings and set new goals for the coming year.
Lauding the overall performance of the Railways, he said the earnings had gone up by 16 per cent during 2005-06 while freight traffic was likely to be 667 millin tonnes, an increase of 10 per cent as compared to the corresponding period last year. Passenger traffic also went up by six per cent, he added.
Since expenditure during this period increased by only about eight per cent, an all-time best operating ratio of 83.7 per cent was achieved, he said.
On the occasion, Mr Batra released a book titled ''Our Indian Railway'' brought out by the Directorate of Public Relations on themes and issues concerning the long history of the Indian Railways.
The book presents a host of views of renowned historians and railway enthusiasts and attempts to introspect railway policies from time to time.
Mr Batra said the performance of officers and staff of Ralways had been superb and commendable and this was an occasion to reward them for efficiency, performance and dedication.
He, however, stressed that there was always a scope for better passenger services. ''The passenger fare have not been touched for the third year in succession and the year 2006-07 has been declared as The Year of Passenger Service with a Smile,'' Mr Batra said.
He said customer training was being organised for all frontline staffers, besides use of ATMs and automatic ticket vending machines.
''Public-Private Partnership is being encouraged for upgrading retiring rooms and station buildings. Plans are afoot to convert all 'A' and 'B' categroy stations into model stations while construction of eastern and western dedicated freight corridors is under process,'' he said, exuding confidence that these measures would enable the Railways to achieve its new targets.
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