Southern Railway will spend an estimated ₹286.35 crore to eliminate 149 unmanned level crossings in Tamil Nadu by September this year.
After being pulled up by the Railway Board for not meeting the March 2018 deadline, the zone has embarked on a fast-track mission to close all unmanned level crossings prone to accidents.
According to railway sources, a review of the existing unmanned level crossings was done based on the density of rail and road traffic. It was decided to convert 29 unmanned level crossings into manned ones at a cost of ₹7.25 crore.
As many as 140 such crossings would be eliminated by constructing subways or diverting the alignment at a cost of ₹279.1 crore. Southern Railway was also exploring the possibilities of deploying Home Guards as Gate Mitras to prevent mishaps on the advice of the Railway Board. Asked if the conversions would help in enhancing the speed of trains, a senior railway official said the permitted speed would remain unchanged. However, the confidence level of loco pilots would get a boost since many unmanned level crossings were vulnerable to accidents, mainly due to the negligence of motorists.
Speed of trains
Southern Railway had already speeded up trains in Chennai-Madurai sector after the completion of the double line with electrification project along the 497-km route. The ground work commenced for materialise the long-pending demand of travelling public and trades for introducing a Shatabdi Express between the two cities, the official said adding that More Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) rakes manufactured by Integral Coach Factory would be introduced soon replacing the old ICF design coaches for better quality ride and comfort.
Gauge conversion, broad gauge doubling and electrification projects in the zone had gathered momentum after Ashwini Lohani, Chairman, Railway Board, set month-wise targets to complete sanctioned work. Referring to a recent letter from Mr. Lohani, the official said they were told to avoid the tendency to keep work pending till the last quarter.
On an average, Southern Railway operates 1,300 trains, including 8 on meter gauge, over 5,081 km across Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and the Union Territory of Puducherry. The zone’s apportioned earnings soared from ₹6845.55 crore in 2013-14 to ₹7669.97 crore in 2017-18.