Air India chief takes over as new Railway Board head

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The Railway Ministry on Wednesday appointed Ashwani Lohani as the new Chairman of Railway Board after AK Mittal tendered his resignation following the derailment of Kaifiyat Express near Auraiya in Uttar Pradesh.

Lohani, an officer with Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), is now Chairman-Managing Director (CMD) of Air India.

The Railway Ministry's decision to send Railway Board Member (Engineering) Aditya Mittal on leave after finding lapses in the maintenance procedures that led to the derailment of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express has come as a surprise to the Board.

The day also saw Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeting that he took full moral responsibility for the recent train accidents and was willing to step down, but the Prime Minister asked him "to wait". "Hon'ble PM has asked me to wait", the Railway Minister tweeted.

At least 74 people were injured after 10 bogies of a passenger train derailed early on Wednesday in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

About 70 passengers were injured in this accident.

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 has also served in the National Rail Museum and holds the Guinness Record for successfully running the "Fairy Queen Express", the world's oldest working steam locomotive.

A qualified mechanical engineer, who also has degrees in electrical, metallurgical and electronics and telecommunication streams, Lohani is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. In July, Mital became the first Railway Board chairman in history to be granted a two-year extension.

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

"Will not allow laxity in operations by the Board".

Before joining Railway Board as Member Staff, Mital was General Manager of South Western Railway/Hubli.