Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) [UPSC Notes]

The tragic train accident in Odisha that occured in June 2023 has highlighted the issues and importance of rail safety. Investigating such accidents falls under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), a government body responsible for maintaining rail safety in the country. In this article, you can learn more about the Commission for Railway Safety from the IAS exam perspective.

Commission of Railway Safety (CRS)

The Commission of Railway Safety is a government body that deals with matters relating to the safety of rail travel and train operation and is charged with certain statutory functions as laid down in the Railway Act (1989).

Commission of Railway Safety Functions

  • Statutory Functions: The CRS holds various statutory responsibilities, including inspection, investigation, and advisory roles related to rail travel and operations.
  • Accident Investigation: Investigating serious train accidents is a crucial aspect of the CRS’s mandate, aiming to identify the causes, improve safety measures, and prevent future incidents.
  • Headquarters and Jurisdiction: The CRS is headquartered in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, and operates across different circles, with the Commissioner of Railway Safety for the south-eastern circle leading the investigation into the recent Odisha train accident.

Independence from Railway Board:

  • Administrative Control: Unlike the Ministry of Railways and the Railway Board, the CRS falls under the administrative control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). This arrangement aims to ensure the independence of the CRS and prevent any conflicts of interest.
  • Preventing Conflicts of Interest: Separation from the Railway Board allows the CRS to maintain an objective perspective and prioritize the safety of rail passengers and personnel without being influenced by administrative or operational concerns.

Commission of Railway Safety Origins

  • Early Days of Railways in India: In the 1800s, private companies constructed and operated the first railways in India. The British Indian government appointed consulting engineers to oversee the network’s efficiency, economy, and safety.
  • From Consulting Engineers to Government Inspectors: These consulting engineers later became government inspectors, and in 1883, their position was recognized statutorily to ensure effective control and oversight of railway operations.
  • Railway Inspectorate and the Railway Board: In the early 1900s, the Railway Inspectorate was placed under the Railway Board, which was established in 1905. The Board gained powers and functions related to railway operations and safety oversight.
  • Separation Advocated: The Government of India Act, 1935, highlighted the need for an independent authority to ensure railway safety, separate from the Railway Board, and recommended the separation of the Railway Inspectorate.
  • Transfer of Administrative Control: In 1940, the Central Legislature endorsed the separation, and in May 1941, the Railway Inspectorate was separated from the Railway Board and placed under the administrative control of the Department of Posts and Air, which eventually came under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. 
  • Redesignation as CRS: The erstwhile Railway Inspectorate was re-designated as the Commission of Railway Safety in 1961.

The Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of rail travel in India. 

Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) [UPSC Notes]:- Download PDF Here

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