Presenting the rail budget, minister Dinesh Trivedi said his key focus would be on safety, along with modernisation and improving finances
Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi today announced an outlay of Rs60,100 crore for Indian Railways in 2012-13 – the highest ever – and said most of this would be spent on improving infrastructure.
''Safety is my first priority and sole emphasis,'' Trivedi also said while reading out his budget speech in the Lok Sabha. "Indian Railways has to be benchmarked with Europe and Japan … my focus will be safety, safety, safety."
Trivedi said he came to this decision as soon as he assumed charge of the rail ministry last year against the backdrop of a rail accident in Uttar Pradesh last year.
"I vow to target zero deaths," he said. "I also propose to set up an independent railway safety authority, as recommended by an expert group headed by the former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar."
He said a special purpose vehicle would be set up to achieve better safety protocols. Among the steps, Trivedi said unmanned level crossings would be abolished in the next five years.
The other focus areas listed by the minister were consolidation, de-congestion and capacity augmentation, and bringing down operating ratio. Trivedi said the operating ratio of the railways - the amount spent on running the network against revenues - will be lowered to 84.5 per cent from the current 95 per cent, and to 74 per cent by the final year of the 12th plan to improve its profitability.