New Delhi: Despite 158 years down the line of the souvenir of Railways given by the Britishers in 1853 by flagging the first train from Mumbai to Thane, the progress of the Indian Railways have failed to meet a satisfactory landmark.

During the British rule, 53,000 kilometres of rail network had already been laid and looking at its further improvement post-independence, the progress has been stretched by merely 11,000 kilometres. The shoddy pace of our development has been such that while the world is hurrying up in bullet trains, we are still stuck with Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains.

Though many sky-high promises were made for the development of the Railways, they just proved to be false assertions. As a result, the Indian Railways is still struggling with the basic aspects of safety, conservation, cleanliness, energy, and self-dependence. 

Several governments changed in the past and so did the Railway ministers, but the fate of the Railways remained unchanged. While some improvements took place in 1980s and some expansion was witnessed in 1990s but the new millennium was welcomed by accidents rather than brighter possibilities.

Finally, in 2003, when Nitish Kumar was the Railway Minister, he introduced special safety fund worth Rs 17,000 crores but it was absorbed by existing infrastructure rather than any innovation.

The railways, however, entered into a pool of losses until Lalu Prasad Yadav waved his magic wand to bring in some surprising  gains but with Mamata Banerjee’s arrival, the benefits vanished in the name of welfare of common man. However, fund worth Rs 90,000 crores disappeared in this introspection of the Railways.

Now, Dinesh Trivedi, Minister of Railways, has demanded Rs 5 lakh crores for making world class railways with airport like stations and approached the Finance Ministry for a loan of Rs 2,000 crore, but in vain. With Mamata’s efforts to win the hearts of common man, Trivedi has failed to muster courage to raise even the train fares to fulfill future prospects.

He has entrusted the responsibility of averting train accidents on nuclear experts while the task of modernization has been handed over to those who do not even hold an experience of travelling in a train.

While the Railway Minister is involved in political developments, the common man is confronting over reservation, heavy fog and delayed trains. The fear of train mishaps has forced the trains to stick to a turtle’s pace in order to avert any unfortunate incident.

While there is no sign of the much acclaimed Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS), the Anti-Collision Device is still under trial since a decade. Also, a new promise of Fog Safe Device has been made to draw some more crores in the name of train safety. Meanwhile, the Real Train Information System is still stuck in cold waters.

Moreover, the trains in Maoist-affected areas still don’t run during the night. Also, the 60,000 vacancies related to security are still pending while 129 lives have been lost this year including the Fatehpur train collision and Jharkhand train fire.

JPN/Bureau