The safety of passengers will be the topmost priority of the railways, new Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said as he assumed the charge on Thursday.
The railway ministry had on Wednesday appointed Lohani as the Chairman of Railway Board (CRB) after A K Mital had tendered his resignation following two derailments within a span of five days killing over 20 people and injuring more than 200.
"Safety will be our topmost focus, of course. Cleanliness, improvement of stations, ending corruption and VIP culture would be other areas of focus," Lohani told reporters in New Delhi. Lohani (58) said there were "lot of expectations" from the railways and the national carrier would work hard to improve itself.
He further said it was an "emotional moment" for him to take charge of the Railway Board. Being an officer of the railway mechanical service, the railways is the parent organisation for Lohani. He has earlier served as the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Delhi. Lohani said he "feels good" that the government has considered him "worthy" of this position.
Underlining that the Railways are a very old organisation and a lifeline for India, he said it has several strengths. "We will move forward on those strengths," Lohani said.
As he entered the Rail Bhawan, he bowed down to pay reverence to his parent organisation. He assumes charge at a time the safety aspect of the railways is under sharp focus after two back-to-back derailments.
On August 19, 13 coaches of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Khatauli, Uttar Pradesh, killing 22 passengers and injuring over 150. On August 23, at least 70 people were injured when the Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya in Uttar Pradesh.
Hailed as a turnaround specialist, Lohani, was serving as the CMD of the now operationally profitable Air India. He was replaced by Rajiv Bansal who also took charge on Thursday.