NEW DELHI: It is high time for India to set up truly independent safety regulator and make railway accident reports public that can bring more transparency and enhance public trust in the national transporter.
Indian Railways, often blamed for sweeping inquiry reports under the carpet, must learn from the UK — the first country to set up an organization to look at safety that was completely independent of the railways and work to produce a common framework for safety.
Carolyn Griffiths, chief inspector, Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), the UK's railway safety regulator, said that all the rail safety regulators of the European countries put out their investigation reports in public domain.
"RAIB put out records in the public domain as we believe other railways can learn by reading our report," said Griffiths, who was here to deliver a lecture at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
She said, "We believe that by putting everything in the public domain, people will read our reports and learn."
However, RAIB does not name anybody as the investigations are done only for safety, and for the railway workers.
With level crossings in India turning into dead traps and account for majority of the accidents, Indian Railways can cooperate with RAIB to make these crossing safer as eliminating them would need huge fund to the tune of around Rs 15,000 crore. "The safest level crossing is no level crossing," said Griffiths.
While RAIB is legally allowed to investigate only in the UK, she said, "We cooperate with other railways where we feel our expertise may help. We also have a MoU with Dubai to provide support for them."
Griffiths said, "Between us the IET and the IMechE we represent over 250,000 engineers and technicians right worldwide. We will look for all opportunities, either bilaterally or within the greater engineering community, which will benefit our respective memberships and, more importantly, the engineering profession as a whole."