New Delhi: After being grilled by the Allahabad High Court for the Kalka Mail disaster, the Ministry of Railways has now sought a fund of Rs 70,000 crore from the Centre to meet all the expectations and necessities, which has been endorsed by the PMO as well.

Earlier, when Nitish Kumar was the Railways Minister in 2003, a corporate safety plan was formulated with an estimated budget of Rs 33,000 crore. Following which Cess charge was imposed on the rail tickets so as to create a special security fund of Rs 17,000 crore.

Although it was imposed for five years, the successive Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav re-imposed the Cess which is still applicable. Even after all these measures, there has been no decline in the rail collisions, rail derailments or unmanned crossing accidents.

During the tenure of Mamata Banerjee as Railways Minister in UPA-II, maximum train accidents were reported including Gorakhdham- Prayagraj, Shramshakti-Kalindi, Mewad Express (Mathura), Vananchal Express (Sainthia) and also the Gyaneshwari Express accident.

Other than these accidents, while the Railways was under the PM’s jurisdiction recently, three major rail accidents were reported in Uttar Pradesh, which claimed lives of at least 450 people.

The earlier corporate safety plan had major thrust on the track, bridge and change of rolling stock, however, the present corporate safety plan would lay emphasis on the modernasation and execution of signal and communication techniques.

Rs 31,000 crore would be required for the signal and communication techniques only, while Rs 30,000 crore for Anti-collision Device (ACD), Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) and Vigilance Control Device (VCD) techniques.

Apart from this, Rs 5,000 crore would be required for the filling 1,22 lakh posts and deploying staff at 14,898 unmanned crossings.

JPN/Bureau