July 29, 2016

Indian Railways to eliminate all Umannned Level Crossings by 2019

The Hon’ble Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu is determined to fulfill ‘Mission Zero Accident’ promise. It is an endeavor of Railways to eliminate all unmanned level crossings on broad gauge in a phased manner by either i) Closure- Closing unmanned level crossings having NIL/Negligible Train Vehicle Unit (TVU) ii) Merger - Merger of unmanned level crossing to nearby manned/unmanned level crossing or subway/Road Under Bridge (RUB)/Road Under Bridge(RUB)/ Road Over Bridge (ROB) by construction of diversion road iii) Provision of Subways / RUBs or iv) Manning - Phased manning of unmanned level crossings, which cannot be eliminated by above means.
There are presently, 9340 total Unmanned Level crossings (UMLCs) on Indian Railways of which 6388 are on Board Gauge and 2952 on Meter Gauge/Narrow Gauge.
According to an internal survey, 40 percent of our accidents and 68 percent of deaths on IR takes place at level crossings. Besides, these crossings also lead to drop in speed and hence impact the throughput of the network. “We intend to eliminate all unmanned level crossings on Broad Gauge in the next 3-4 years for which innovative financing mechanisms are being developed”, the Hon’ble Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu committed in his budget speech 2016-17.
Unmanned Level Crossings on Meter Gauge/Narrow Gauge will preferably be eliminated during Gauge Conversion. Accordingly, survey has been carried out for elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings on Broad Gauge and planned for their elimination. Planning of elimination of 6,352(6,388 – 36) Unmanned Level Crossings on Broad Gauge by various methods are as under. Around 36 Unmanned Level Crossings on Rail-Bus route (16 Nos. in East Coast Railway and 20 Nos in South Central Railway) have not been planned for their elimination because of very less Train Vehicle Unit (TVU) and there are no records of any accidents on this route.    
Method of   Elimination  of  Unmanned Level  Crossings on Broad Gauge:
By Closure--51    
By Merger --408    
By Provision of   Subway--2799    
By Manning--3034    
However, above mentioned planning is tentative as method of elimination of particular level crossings depends upon the consent of local authorities.
Estimated Cost of elimination of 6,352 Unmanned Level Crossings on Broad Gauge is approximately Rs,7,500 crores. The Ministry of Railways is determined to eliminate 1,440 Unmanned Level Crossings in 2016-17 financial year with 239 Unmanned Level Crossings already eliminated till June 2016. Around 24501 UMLCs have been eliminated in the last two years.
As per the budget 2016-17 commitment, ROB/RUB is constructed on cost sharing basis with State Government where traffic density at i.e., is more than one lac TUV (Train Vehicle Cost) per day. Generally, Railway construct ROB on cost sharing basis and an approximate cost of 2 lane ROB is Rs. 30 crore (equally shared by Railway and State Government). And an approximate cost of RUB/Subway is Rs.2.5 crore. Approximately, Rs 60-70 lakhs and Rs 10 lakh is spent on manning of UMLC and recurring cost of manning of UMLSs respectively.
To solidify the commitment, in November 2014, MoU was signed between Ministry of Railways at Ministry of Road Transport & Highways for elimination of level crossing on National Highway. As per MOU, MORTH/NHAI will eliminate all level crossings on NH corridors by ROB/RUB in next 5 years at their cost subject to availability of funds.
However, till the time complete elimination of UMLCs is done by complete conversion method and considering the large number of accidents at the UMLCs, in 2014 the Ministry of Railways had decided to take a dedicated step solving this by appointing ‘Gate Mitras’ at all vulnerable spots. The Indian Railways has a total of 4326 Gate Mitras presently, who counsel the road vehicle users for observance of safe practice while negotiating UMLCs. These Gate Mitras or Gate counselors—generally sourced from Home Guard, Ex-servicemen are being deployed as a purely temporary measure on contractual who are imparted training and are suitably counselled at appropriate level of the concerned Zonal Railways. The deployment of Gate Mitras has led to reduction in number of accidents at UMLCs. In 2014-15, 50 accidents took place UMLCs while in 2015-16, the number came down to 29.
Simultaneously, Indian Railways has been conducting awareness campaigns to prevent occurrence of such unfortunate incidents. The campaigns include organising Nukkad Nataks (Street Plays), distribution of leaflets in and around unmanned level crossings, sending of mass SMS alerts to road users at and around UMLCs, advertisements and posters, special lectures in educational institutions etc.
Under the existing Motor Vehicles Act (Section 131) –‘ Duty of the driver to take certain precautions at unguarded railway level crossings.—Every driver of a motor vehicle at the approach of any unguarded railway level crossing shall cause the vehicle to stop and the driver of the vehicle shall cause the conductor or cleaner or attendant or any other person in the vehicle to walk up to the level crossing and ensure that no train or trolley is approaching from either side and then pilot the motor vehicle across such level crossing, and where no conductor or cleaner or attendant or any other person is available in the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle shall get down from the vehicle himself to ensure that no train or trolley is approaching from either side before the railway track is crossed.’