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Commission of Railway Safety (CRS): Ensuring Rail Travel Safety in India

The Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) is a crucial government commission in India responsible for ensuring the safety of rail travel and train operations. Established during the British era, the CRS has evolved over time to become an independent authority under the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). This article provides an overview of the CRS, its organizational structure, responsibilities, and its role in investigating rail accidents.

Historical Background

  • Origin during the British Era: The CRS traces its origins back to the British era when private players were involved in the construction and operation of railways.
  • Appointment of Consulting Engineers: Initially, consulting engineers were appointed by the British government of India to exercise control over the private railway companies.
  • Evolution of Inspectorate: With the government taking over railway construction, consulting engineers became Government Inspectors, and in 1883, their position was officially recognized.
  • Separation from the Railway Board: After the tragic Bihta derailment in Bihar in 1939, the Pacific Locomotive Committee recommended separating the Railway Inspectorate from the Railway Board to ensure independence in inspections.

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Organizational Structure and Jurisdiction

  • Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS): The CRS is headed by the CCRS, based in Lucknow, who serves as the Principal Technical Advisor to the Central Government on railway safety.
  • Commissioners of Railway Safety (CRS): Nine CRS, under the administrative control of the CCRS, are responsible for specific jurisdictions, covering the 17 Zonal Railways, as well as Metro Railway (Kolkata), DMRC (Delhi), MRTS (Chennai), and Konkan Railway.
  • Deputy Commissioners of Railway Safety: The headquarters in Lucknow has five deputy commissioners, while Mumbai and Kolkata each have one, assisting the CRS in matters related to signaling and telecommunication disciplines.

Designations and Responsibilities

  • Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS): Since 1979, the CCRS and Commissioners of Railway Safety have been the designated positions responsible for railway safety matters.
  • Recruitment and Independence: Commissioners of Railway Safety are recruited from Indian Railways but do not report to the Railways. They are absorbed within the independent Commission of Railway Safety under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
  • Inspections and Approvals: Safety commissioners inspect new railways to determine their fitness for public carriage. They conduct periodic inspections of existing railways and rolling stock. No new lines can operate without their approval.
  • Accident Investigations: In the event of a serious accident, the CRS conducts inspections of the accident site, records relevant particulars, and initiates inquiries. They consider eyewitness accounts and public evidence during investigations.

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