Taming the killer monster

Taming the killer monster
K Balakesari’s article “Rerailing the Indian Railways” (The Hindu, November 23) should be an eye-opener for the policy makers responsible for reforming Railways and provides useful information to those who quickly blame the employees of the organization concerned, whenever something goes wrong in the system. If the Indian Railways with its massive responsibilities is still functional, the major part of the credit should go to the thousands of Railway employees (including retired railmen engaged on contract basis for various skills they could not pass on to the next generation of Tech-savvy ‘engineers’, but are relevant as the infrastructure has not been modernized) who  work 24X7. The letters I and R which stand for Indian Railways, do stand also for the Integrity and Reliability of the workforce which run the Railways.
If 70 percent of the accidents are attributed to ‘staff failures’, one can easily assume that the stress put on employees due to overwork due to extended or repeated duty shifts were not factored in, while making the judgments. While large number of deaths happen in accidents like the one between Pukhrayan and Malasa, the average 10 to 12 deaths(no reliable estimate about injuries) caused everyday by overcrowding and indiscipline in Mumbai suburban locals do not draw any attention from policy makers or even social activists. Here the entire blame should be owned by the system, comprising the management of Railways and GOI. After all, the service is not provided free and as a consumer, the passenger has a right for reasonably acceptable and safe services.
All these point to the need for fast and comprehensive reform of existing rail services. Introduction of metro or monorail systems or superfast trains in long routes cannot be a substitute for improving the efficiency and safety of the existing services.

M G Warrier, Mumbai 


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