Days after the Amritsar mishap, Indian Railways has decided to construct 3,000 Km of walls to fence its tracks and ward off trespassers in residential areas. According to the ‘Indian Express’ report, estimated cost of the project would be around 2,500 crore. The report states that Railways Minister Piyush Goyal have taken this decision after the Amritsar train tragedy.
The RCC (reinforced cement concrete) walls will be constructed at a height of 2.7 metres, along railway tracks which are surrounded by residential areas in both suburban areas and non-suburban areas.
The Indian Express has quoted Vishwesh Chaube, Railway Board Member (Engineering), who is finalising the project, as stating, “This will prevent trespassing as well as cattle straying into the tracks in areas which are vulnerable. The height is such that dumping waste on the track will also not be easy.”
The Commission of Railway Safety specifies that in order to get safety clearance for train speeds of 160 kmph, the railway tracks need to be fenced or walled. The Indian Express has quoted a source saying, “With more stretches set to get a speed upgrade, walls along tracks have become necessary and the decision is linked to that as well.” Additionally, there are also plans to construct boundary walls at areas exposed to danger along the Golden Quadrilateral and its diagonals.
According to the report, before the Amritsar train tragedy, the zonal railways had planned to construct 2,000 km of walls in some areas identified as problematic. The project is a part of Union Budget 2018-2019, and it is likely to cost around Rs 650 crore. The Rashtriya Rail Sanrakshana Kosh will fund this project. The Rashtriya Rail Sanrakshana Kosh is Rs 1 lakh crore special safety fund that is to be utilized in five years. According to Officials, tenders have already been floated and are likely to be concluded by next month.
The fresh thrust after the Amritsar train tragedy is estimated to cover all vulnerable areas in populated regions along the railway tracks. Chaube said, “The new project is over and above what we have been working on this year.”
The Indian Railways has been susceptible to frequent derailments and accidents. But it seems now that the railways are finally headed on the right track. Under Piyush Goyal, the railways has managed to achieve the best safety record till date, and the way he is working it is safe to conclude railways would further improve its safety records.
The Indian Railways has always had a miserable record in terms of accidents. It was in 1968-69 that for the first the time, the number of rail accidents fell to three digits. Ever since, three digits has been the norm. The exception was 1980-81, when it went up to four digits, a total of 1,013 accidents.
Indian Railways, under Piyush Goyal has taken some significant steps to ensure safety of the passengers.
Just to give an example of the work done by the railways to ensure safety of people. In April earlier this year, unmanned level crossings in the country numbered a staggering 3,470. By the end of September, the number reduced to mere 600 unmanned level crossings. Furthermore, all the unmanned crossings have been removed at places where trains are allowed to run at more than 130km/h. This has been done by either constructing subways, bridges at these crossings or by altogether closing them down. As part of this safety drive, the Indian Railways has resolved to not construct any more level crossings.
Ensuring safety in the Railways, the most commonly used means of transport, is essential for a nation that is developing at a rapid pace. This is a small but crucial step in bringing about a holistic change in our approach towards transport.
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