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No passenger fatality in train accidents since April 2019

Two trains run on the same track to test an anti-collision device. File   | Photo Credit: AP

No passenger fatality in train accidents has been reported since April 2019. The accidents progressively have also declined from 107 in 2015-16 to 55 in 2019-20, with only 12 such cases reported this year so far, according to Railway Board Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vinod Kumar Yadav.

At a press conference, Mr. Yadav said all the unmanned level crossings on broad gauge were eliminated by January 2019. The process of doing away with manned level crossing gates was also accelerated. While safer coaches were being manufactured since January 2018, the replacement of old mechanical signalling with the electronic system had been intensified. Locomotive pilots were being imparted simulator-based training.

The indigenous Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) was also being implemented in a phased manner. The system was already functional along 250-km stretch and work on 1,200 km is in progress. TCAS along the freight dense routes is expected to be implemented by March 2024 and across the entire railway network by 2030.

Mr. Yadav said the Railways were now undertaking a partnership approach for passenger train operations to enhance overall service quality and operational efficiency. In the first phase, it planned to introduce 151 modern passenger trains operated through PPP over 109 origin-destination pairs of routes. This would bring private sector investment of ₹30,000 crore. Applications from interested parties had been received and the request for proposals issued to the shortlisted applicants in November.

Despite the COVID-19-triggered challenges, Mr. Yadav said, the Railways ran 4,621 Shramik Special trains that ferried 63.1 lakh migrant workers. In all, 1.85 crore meals and 2.21 crore water bottles were distributed for free. The Railways converted 5,601 train coaches into COVID-19 care centres, earmarked 5,000 beds in 17 dedicated hospitals and also reserved 33 isolated hospital blocks for the purpose.

During the pandemic, the Railways completed 350 major infrastructure works to improve safety and speed, and carried out intensive safety maintenance of assets. The rail network ensured supplies of essential commodities, including coal, fertilizer and petroleum, across the country. Under the PM Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan, over 14 lakh man-days employment was given. It also produced 5.5 lakh PPEs, 20 lakh reusable face covers and 1.4 lakh litres of sanitisers.

Mr. Yadav said the Kisan Rail was now running on nine routes, providing 50% concession on transport of notified fruits and vegetables. Under the programme, about 27,000 tonnes of agro-products had been transported.

The Railway Board chief said 68% land for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project had been acquired. While 90% acquisition had been made in Gujarat and work contracts awarded, about 22% had been acquired in Maharashtra so far. In the coming four months, it was expected to reach the 80% mark, after which contracts would be awarded there as well.

About 66% of the track length had been electrified by November. The Railways aimed to complete electrification of its entire broad-gauge network by 2023. The estimated saving on fuel/energy bill for the Railways would be about ₹14,500 crore per annum, he said.

This year, the Railways also started its pilot 1.5 MW solar energy plant with an aim to power its energy needs. “This is part of an ambitious programme to generate 20 GigaWatt of solar power by 2030,” said Mr. Yadav.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 6:25:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-passenger-fatality-in-train-accidents-since-april-2019/article33424832.ece

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