Air India's Ashwani Lohani To Also Head Railway Board After Accidents

Ministry of Railways

Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Air India Ashwani Lohani was on Wednesday named as the new Chairman of Railway Board following the resignation of AK Mittal.

Lohani is an Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineering (IRSME) cadre. There is, however, no confirmation if the resignation has been accepted by the Railway minister.

Mittal took this drastic step after Uttar Pradesh witnessed two train derailments within five days; where 10 coaches of Kaifiyat Express heading towards Delhi derailed after colliding with a dumper near Auraiya district and over 20 people have been injured. His appointment was cleared by the Prime Minister's Office.

In January almost 40 people died when a passenger train derailed in the southern state of Andra Pradesh.

The Congress said in the past three years, 28 accidents had taken place, leaving 259 people dead and 973 injured.

"I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuring passengers and loss of precious lives", Prabhu said.

The return of engineer-turned-bureaucrat Ashwani Lohani to the Railways with a new assignment comes two years after the Narendra Modi government hand-picked him to steer Air India out of a crisis. He successfully piloted the nomination of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway as a UNESCO world heritage site. Mittal resigned as the Railway Boarc chairman, following two back-to-back train accidents. Suresh Prabhu has ordered a probe into the derailment case and had said that no laxity would be allowed by the board.

He also set a Guinness World Record in 1998 for running the oldest working steam locomotive in the world.

On Sunday night, several top railway officials including Member-Engineering Railway Board, GM (Northern) Railway, DRM (Northern Railway) were sent on leave, while several field level officials were suspended, based on prima facie evidence.

Senior railway officials said Mital was not happy that senior officials of the ministry had to face the brunt of the outfall of the Utkal Express derailment.



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