New Delhi: Amidst a huge hue and cry from past one week over the post of Union Railway Minister, Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy was on Tuesday sworn-in for the post, which was vacated by Dinesh Trivedi on Monday.

READ MORE:Safety, punctuality my priority: Roy

However, soon after taking the charge of the Railways, Roy had to face with an embarrassment when the Mathura-Kasganj Express rammed into an overcrowded jeep at an unmanned level crossing in Hathras killing sixteen people.  

Soon after the accident, the new Railway Minister said, “Safety, security and punctuality will be my priority as the Railway Minister.”

Widely expected to roll back at least the lower class passenger fare hike proposed by Trivedi in the Railway Budget, Roy, 57, was sworn in as cabinet minister at a special but brief ceremony by President Pratibha Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The ceremony was attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the UPA chairperson and Cabinet Ministers including ministers of Tinamool Congress.

With safety as the prime focus, former Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi while presenting his Ral Budget 2012-13 had spelt out five priority areas for his ministry over the 12th Five Year Plan.

"My focus will be safe safety, safety, safety," Trivedi told the Lok Sabha while presenting the rail budget for the next fiscal in the Lok Sabha., special purpose vehicle to be set up on safety protocols.

The budget included that Independent railway safety authority to be set up as statutory safety body and Rs 5.60 lakh crore of investment was required for modernisation.

Also the budget had said that focus during next five years will be given on five areas: tracks, bridges, signaling, rolling stock and stations. Signaling to be improved over 19,000 km.

As of now, there are more than 32,000 crossings out of which 14,896 are unmanned. The Kakodkar Committee had submitted its reports to Railway Minister highlighting poor health of the sector. It has sought Rs 5,000 crore as safety cess on passengers on the annual basis for the next five years and a matching grant from Centre, deferment of dividend of Rs 5,000 crore due, road cess of Rs 1,000 crore, and an income of Rs 4,000 crore from Rail Land Development Authority earnings. 

In the present budget, preference was also given to the other aspects as well and in this regard funds too were allotted. For example, Rs 6,467 crore was given for the maintainace work of the rail lines and bridges which according to the last budget is 11 percent more.

(JPN/ Bureau/ Agencies)