Indian Railways is planning to eliminate 2,429 level crossings on GQ and GD routes across the country besides carrying out track renewal, signal upgradation and replacement of ageing rolling stock.
Pitching for zero accident rate, Indian Railways has sought an increase of annual safety fund to Rs 30,000 crore from the current Rs 20,000 crore for safety enhancement on the busy rail networks.
According to the plan, the railways is planning to eliminate 2,429 level crossings on the golden quadrilateral (GQ) and golden diagonal (GD) routes across the country besides carrying out track renewal, signal upgradation and replacement of ageing rolling stock.
There are four GQ routes — Delhi-Howrah, Delhi-Mumbai, Howrah -Chennai and Mumbai-Chennai and two GD routes — Delhi-Chennai and Howrah-Mumbai.
Sanctioned in 2017-18 with an initial corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore to be spent over five years with an annual outlay of Rs 20,000 crore, the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) has been effectively utilised to reduce accident rate considerably.
There were works pertaining to about 30 critical areas including strengthening of tracks, elimination of unmanned level crossings, upgradation of signalling and induction of new rolling stocks which were not progressing well due to the lack of funds.
However, after the creation of RRSK, safety related works gained pace and resulted in a decrease in consequential train accidents.
We have sought an increase in the safety fund by Rs 10,000 crore in a year to carry out major works required to strengthen safety and reduce train accidents, said a senior official in the safety directorate.
According to the railways data, barring deaths due to trespassing, no passenger died in train accidents in 2019-20. Though there were a total five deaths due to train accidents during this period, none of them was rail passenger. They were either railway employees or contractual labour.
The railways maintained that the large number of deaths taking place on Mumbai suburban sections are considered as trespassing and not considered as train accidents. The railways is now making special efforts to eliminate trespassing in suburban areas.
The railways has targeted construction of 1,500 foot over-bridges (FOB) in 2019-24 out of these 500 FOBs have already been commissioned. Escalators have also been provided at some of these FOBs to facilitate convenient crossing of tracks to augment FOB capacity.
The newly-manufactured coaches have automatic door closing and opening which will reduce the probability of passengers falling out of coaches.
Since the Union cabinet has already approved raising speed to 160 kmph on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes, major civil works like fencing, realignment of curves are being carried out on these sections. Track renewal works are already being carried out on these routes under RRSK.