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Rail safety most important, says Lalu

July 06, 2004 14:05 IST

Safety of rail operations would be accorded the highest priority, said the Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav while presenting the Railway Budget 2004-2005 in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Unveiling the new measures, the minister stated in his budget speech that as a result of various safety measures and sustained efforts, the number of consequential train accidents has come down from 473 in 2000-01 to 414 in 2001-02, 351 in 2002-03 and further 325 in 2003-04.

This has been the lowest number of accidents ever, reflecting a considerable reduction in the year 2003-04 over 2000-01.

The number of consequential train accidents per million train kilometres has also come down to 0.39 against the figure of 0.44 during the preceding year. The effort will be to bring this down even further, the minister said.

The Special Railway Safety Fund of Rs 17,000 crore (Rs 170 billion) was created with effect from October 1, 2001 to wipe out arrears in renewal of over-aged assets like, track, bridges, rolling stock & signalling gears besides safety enhancement works over a six-year period.

Considerable progress has been made in the execution of works sanctioned under this fund. 8938 kilometres of track have been renewed up to March 31, 2004 out of the total target of 16,538 kilometres to be covered up to March 31, 2007.

The work of replacement of over-aged signalling systems with modern systems has been completed at 441 stations. The work is in progress at 1,053 other stations.

Interlocking at level crossings with signals has been completed at 387 gates during 2003-04, bringing the total of inter-locked level crossings to 7095 out of 16,549 manned level crossings.

With a view to reducing accidents at level crossings, provision of Train Actuated Warning Device has been undertaken at selected 90 level crossings. The device will warn road users and gatemen of the approaching train by emitting a siren and through flashing lights.

Under SRSF, track circuiting works are in progress at about 5,300 locations. Work has so far been completed at about 1,700 locations, he said.

Railways have given very high priority to the work of rehabilitation and strengthening of old bridges.

Of the 2700 bridges to be rehabilitated or rebuilt through Special Railway Safety Fund, 1,306 bridges have been completed up to March 31, 2004. In the current year, 411 bridges are to be rehabilitated.

Indian Railways have finalised a rational criteria for manning of unmanned level crossings based on the volume and nature of road and rail traffic at the level crossing and visibility conditions.

It is planned to man over 1,280 unmanned level crossings over a period of time, with the more vulnerable level crossings being given priority.

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