Passenger safety is top priority: Railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge
NEW DELHI: With passenger safety on top of his mind, railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge announced elimination of all unmanned level crossings in a time-bound manner, installation of fire and smoke detection systems in major passenger trains and introduction of indigenous train collision and avoidance system (TCAS).
A comprehensive fire and smoke detection system is on trial in Rajdhani Express and it will be extended to all major trains along with induction of indigenously developed anti-collision device, Kharge said in his maiden budget, expressing “deep” concern over recent fire accidents in trains.
The budget talked about use of fire retardant material inside coaches while initiating multi-tier protection for electric circuits and provision of portable fire extinguishers in AC coaches.
In his interim budget, Kharge said 5,400 unmanned level crossings were eliminated – 2,310 by manning and 3,090 by closure or merger or construction of road overbridge (ROB) or road underbridge (RUB) during the last five years.
The minister said manning or elimination of all unmanned level crossings and provision of ROB/RUBs in lieu of manned level crossings with heavy traffic density in a time-bound manner is a commitment of railways.
There are 18,672 level crossings in the country, out of which 12,582 are unmanned.
The budget also mentioned the plan for induction of indigenously-developed TCAS on rail network and provision of Vigilance Control Device to monitor and judge alertness of drivers to prevent train accidents. The trials of TCAS have been successfully completed on the 200km long Vikrabad-Bidar section.
Kharge also announced slew of measure to enhance amenities for rail travelers such as installing more automatic ticket vending machines, ticket status update to passengers through SMS, an update for train running information, and online booking of retiring rooms at all important stations.
The online booking of meals on trains for selected en-route stations will also be facilitated.
Introduction of e-forwarding note and electronic transmission of railway receipts for freight customers, which will enable users to carry out freight business with railways from the comfort of their homes and offices would be taken care of, he said.
He also mentioned that computerization of claims settlement process on railways will be done.
Railways will formulate a new policy for promoting the parcel handling business of the railways.
“A new policy on parcels will be formulated which shall also encourage transportation of milk across the country,” Kharge said.
“A new concept of hub and spoke for parcel business will be introduced. Third party warehousing in special parcel terminals is also envisaged.”