THE RAILWAYS has been running the newly launched Mumbai-Goa luxury train Tejas Express, billed as the “future of train travel” in India, without the mandatory safety clearance from the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), according to official correspondence confirmed by The Indian Express.
Last week, the CRS, which is a statutory body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, wrote to Central Railway and the Rail Ministry asking why the new train was launched and continues to run without the CRS having inspected it and given a safety nod. In its reply, the Railways’ R&D wing has claimed that the train is currently running without many of its special features and did not include any “new rolling stock” that needed fresh clearance.
In its letter, the CRS pointed out that the move to run the train without its clearance violates Section 27 of the Railways Act, 1989, which mandates that any new rolling stock can be introduced only after prior inspection by it. The move also goes against the Railway Ministry’s Policy Circular No 6, which stipulates that any new rolling stock with higher speed must get a new safety certificate from the CRS.
Sources in the civil engineering wing of Railways said that the policy circular is significant because any new rolling stock potentially alters rail-wheel interaction and needs a fresh safety mandate by the regulator.
Launched by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in May, Tejas runs between Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Karmali in Goa. One of the new products introduced in the last Rail Budget by Prabhu, Tejas has the highest ticket fare per kilometre for trains in the country, with an executive chair-car seat costing around Rs 2,940 with food for the 552-km trip.
The CRS has contended that Tejas is a new product with automatic doors and a new braking system, and capable of running at a top speed of 200 kmph — its coaches, including the toilets, are also different from existing products.
On behalf of the Railway Ministry, the Research Design and Standards Organisation replied to the CRS notice, claiming that Tejas was “not a new rolling stock”, and that although the train has many new features, they are not being currently used, including the new electro-pneumatic braking system.
It also pointed out that although Tejas can run at a top speed of 200 kmph, it is currently running at a speed of 110 kmph — like any other ordinary superfast train. Besides, even though there are automatic doors, it does not change the behaviour of the rolling stock, it said.
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