NEW DELHI, Feb 18 � Accidents at the railway level crossings may be a thing of the past, if the recommendations made by an expert body suggesting elimination of all manned and unmanned crossings are implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000 crore over a five-year period.
The recommendation of the five-member High Level Safety Review Committee (HLSRC) headed by Dr Anil Kakodkar, has relevance for Assam where a number of accidents at unmanned level crossing left several people dead and trains derailed.
The report has mentioned the February 3 accident in Assam. The Committee noted with regret the accident that occurred in the Northeast Frontier Railway, when nine coaches of a passenger train were derailed, out of which five capsized after the train rammed into a JCB, which was negligently crossing the railway track at an unmanned level crossing gate, resulting in the death of both the road users and injuries to 16 passengers.
It was recommended that no level crossing (LC) gate should henceforth be manned or interlocked. A large number of unmanned level crossings have been sanctioned for manning and many manned ones have been sanctioned for interlocking. However, the LCs where infrastructure has been constructed should be manned only on temporary basis till these are closed.
The Committee has made 106 recommendations including the one on elimination of all level crossings. The report was submitted to Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi by the chairman of the expert body at the Rail Bhavan here this afternoon.
It is recommended that all level crossings be eliminated by closure, merger, limited height subways, rail under- bridges and rail overbridges. Implementation should be through Special Purpose vehicles.
The Committee has estimated that the cost of operation and maintenance of all level crossings and loss of line capacity at Rs 7,000 crore. The entire cost is projected to be recovered within seven-eight years.
The Committee was appointed last September and mandated to go into all technical and technology related aspects in connection with safe running of train services in the country.
The total financial implications have been projected at Rs 1 lakh crore over five years at the rate of Rs 20,000 crore per annum.
The Railway Minister said his Ministry would seek additional fund allocations from the Union Finance Ministry.
Of the total 32,735 level crossings on Indian Railways, a large number of 14,896 are unmanned. Such unmanned level crossings have persistently stayed as death traps.