More than two years after a train fatally mowed down 61 persons participating in ‘Dussehra’ near Amritsar, the Ministry of Railways has decided to map local festivals celebrated near railway tracks across the country and issue advisory to loco pilots on speed restrictions and other safety aspects.
In a note to General Managers of Zonal Railways, the Railway Board said there were several local festivals celebrated in India during which the devotees/people gathered near railway premises and crossed the track in groups as part of the event. Such occasions had led to unusual incidents resulting in casualty in the past.
All Divisional Railway Managers were advised to prepare a list of local festivals having the possibility of gathering in and around railway tracks in all States. “The loco pilot of all trains passing through such locations on festival day should be suitably advised,” the note issued early this month said.
There have been a few incidents of fatal accidents on railway tracks during the festival season. In one of the major such accidents in recent years, as many as 61 people, including women and children, were killed and dozens of others injured when a crowd that was watching ‘Ravana’ effigy being burnt as part of Dussehra celebrations near Amritsar was run over by a train.
In a related development, Principal Executive Director (Safety) Devendra Singh expressed concern that accidents and unusual incidents were being reported “very late or not reported” at all to the Railway Board.
“It is being viewed seriously by the Board and the Apex Office of the Ministry [of Railways]. The information about the last few incidents of unusual incidents/accidents has come to Board through the media and not from the Division and Zonal Railways,” said Mr. Singh. He urged the authorities concerned to ensure information flow about accidents or unusual incidents be prompt before it got flashed by the media.