New Delhi: In a significant effort to bolster safety measures and enhance critical infrastructure, the Indian Railways has invested a staggering ₹1.08 trillion on Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) or rail safety-related works from 2017-18 to 2021-22. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw revealed the substantial allocation in response to a question raised in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
The Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) was established in the fiscal year 2017-18 with a dedicated corpus of ₹1 trillion for executing safety works over a five-year period. The projects undertaken under this fund primarily focus on track renewal, bridges, signalling, rolling stock, training, and amenities for safety-critical staff. Funding for RRSK works is derived from Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) and Railways revenues or resources, including mobilization of resources through Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR), following guidelines set by the Ministry of Finance.
Additionally, the Railway Safety Fund (RSF) was initiated in 2001-02 to fund works related to level crossings and road over bridges and road under bridges. Over time, the scope of the RSF has expanded to include capital expenditure on various safety initiatives. For the last five years, both RRSK and RSF have been utilized to allocate funds for safety-related projects.
Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw highlighted the Railway’s commitment to safety, stating, “Apart from this capital expenditure from Gross Budgetary Support, DRF, and DF is made on safety-related works. Between FY 2014-15 and FY 2022-23, the total expenditure and BE for FY 2023-24 amount to ₹1.78 lakh crore on safety-related plan heads. This amount is about 2.5 times the amount spent on safety-related plan heads during FY 2004-05 to FY 2013-14 (₹70,274 crore).”
The railway minister further emphasized the commitment to safety by providing laptops and computers for safety-related track management systems applications. Moreover, the training of safety manpower has also been prioritized to ensure effective implementation of safety measures across the rail network.
Addressing concerns raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its performance audit report of 2022 on “Derailment in Indian Railways,” which observed that some expenditures were booked to RRSK on non-priority items, Minister Vaishnaw assured that the railway authorities have responded to the audit observation in the Action Taken Note. He stated, “Railways has replied to the audit observation in the Action Taken Note, stating that these expenditures are covered by policy letters and technical report of CAMTECH on Running Room Facilities. Accordingly, required expenditure on equipment and gear for safety-critical staff has been booked to RRSK on some Railways.”
The massive investment in safety measures demonstrates the Indian Railways’ commitment to providing a secure and reliable transportation system for millions of passengers and freight across the country. With ongoing efforts to enhance safety infrastructure and prioritize critical safety initiatives, the railways aim to ensure an accident-free and efficient rail network for the nation.