3,438 unmanned crossings to go

3,438 unmanned crossings to go

3,438 unmanned crossings to go

The Railway Ministry will eliminate over 3,438 level crossings, which have proven to be deathtraps, in the next fiscal by carrying out safety-related works, including construction of road over bridges (ROBs) and road under bridges (RUBs), at a cost of Rs 6,581 crore.

Presenting his maiden Rail Budget, Suresh Prabhu said the “ultimate objective” was to eliminate all unmanned level crossings by constructing ROBs and RUBs as “safety is of paramount importance” and “loss of even a single life is too high a price to pay”.

He said the Railways was concerned over unmanned level crossings, manned level crossings, derailments, collisions and fire and an action plan is being prepared for each of these areas.

“We are preparing a five-year corporate safety plan by June 2015, indicating annual quantifiable targets,” he said. “We will examine all pending recommendations made by High Level Safety Review Committee headed by Anil Kakodkar by April. I am happy to announce that in the next financial year, 970 ROB/RUBs and other safety-related works to eliminate 3,438 level crossings at a total Railway expense of Rs 6,581 crore have been sanctioned.

This is more than 2,600 per cent higher than the sanctioned number of ROBs/RUBs during the current year and the highest ever in recent times,” he said.

This number, if achieved, will create a record as in the last six years, the Railways had eliminated 6,502 unmanned level crossings out of which 2,635 were by staffing and the rest by other means. While 1,258 unmanned crossings were eliminated in 2011-12, the next two fiscals saw decline.

In 2012-13, it was 1,163 and 2013-14, it was 1,098.

The Kakodkar panel in 2012 recommended the elimination of all the manned (18,785 at present) and unmanned (11,563) level crossings in five years at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore.

In a short-term measure, he said, the Research, Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) has been asked to develop a device with reliable power supply system based on theft-proof batteries in consultation with Isro for providing audio-visual warning to road users at unmanned level crossings. Further, a radio based signal design project has been taken up with IIT-Kanpur for warnings at unmanned level crossing.

To prevent fire in coaches and also prevent coaches from getting thrown over each other during accidents, the RDSO has been asked to develop new systems.

 “We also propose to install train protection warning system and train collision avoidance system on select routes at the earliest,” he said.

To curb derailments, modern track structure consisting of sleepers and heavier rails are being used while carrying out primary track renewals. Better welding techniques will also be promoted.

 Further, analogue machines for testing of rails are being replaced with digital type machines, which are more reliable.

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