More than a decade after it was first envisaged in the Metro Railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has created a post for the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety under the Commission of Railway Safety, according to an official notification dated January 10. Last month, the Cabinet cleared the proposal for creation of one circle office of Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety, along with all supporting officers and staffs for carrying out the functions of Commission of Metro Railway Safety.
The Commission of Railway Safety, which operates under the administrative control of the civil aviation ministry, deals with the matters pertaining to safety of rail travel and train operation. It originally, established as the Railways Inspectorate along with the Railway Board in 1905.
Later, following recommendations by various committees and to avoid direct subordination of the body to the Railway Board, the inspectorate was placed under the administrative control of the Department of Posts and Air in May 1941 and continuously thereafter under whichever ministry that held the portfolio of civil aviation. In 1961, the inspectorate was re-designated as the Commission of Railway Safety.
With an aim to underscore passenger safety and also to ensure uniformity in safety certification, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs while enacting the “Metro Railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002”, had envisaged similar functions to Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS) in respect of Metro Railways. According to a government release, these functions are inspectorial, investigatory and advisory in nature.
“The most important duty of the Commission is to ensure that any new railway line to be opened for passenger traffic should conform to the standard and specifications prescribed by the Ministry of Railways and the new line is safe in all respects for carrying the passenger traffic.
This is also applicable to other works such as gauge conversion, doubling of lines and electrification of existing lines etc. The Commission also conducts statutory inquiries into serious train accidents and makes recommendations for improving safety on the railways in India,” the release said.
Till date, however, the safety aspect of existing metro rail projects were being monitored by the respective zonal commissioners — Delhi Metro Rail Corporation under the Northern Circle, and Metro Kolkata under the North Eastern Circle. These, along with the other metro rail projects, will now fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission of Metro Railway Safety. Currently a number of metro projects exist in the country, with several planned as well. These include Delhi Metro, Bangalore Metro, Chennai Metro, Chennai Extension, Kochi Metro, Lucknow Metro, Ahmedabad Metro, Nagpur Metro, Mumbai Metro, Hyderabad Metro, Noida-Greater Noida Metro, Jaipur Metro, etc.
The government release announcing the Cabinet decision last month also said: “The post of Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety shall be filled from the cadre of Indian Railway Engineering Services (IRSE, IRSEE, IRSSE, RSME) & IRTS by the Ministry of Civil Aviation through nomination from willing officers from Ministry of Railways in consultation with UPSC, initially according to Recruitment Rules for Commissioner of Railway Safety in the Commission of Railway Safety. The process to fill up the posts shall be initiated within two months.”