NEW DELHI: Pointing out that Railways is doing its bit to make the system safer, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said they eliminated over 1,700 unmanned level crossings in September, which is the highest ever. As on date, unmanned level crossings that handle 80 per cent of trains, have been removed. Unmanned level crossings account for a large number of deaths and incidents.
About 474 unmanned level crossings are left in the Indian Railways, which handle one-two trains a day. He was speaking at a railway conference here on Thursday. The Minister, who wants to bring back the charm of train travel, hoped the service levels of the railways would improve.
Goyal recounted an incident when he reminded a top non-railway official, who was complaining of railway services in the country, that trains in India would not have reached such a state had the Finance Ministry, where the concerned official had spent 25-30 years, given enough funds to railways.
Railways has been improving and redesigning coaches and services for its passengers. Redesigned coaches have been used in trains such as the Tejas, Mahamana, and Utkrishth trains, while newer design trains, including the T18 and T20, are planned for induction.
Earlier, Keshav Chandra, former Member, Railway Board, shared feedback from German Railway authorities, who had visited Indian Railways. Chandra, who was then in the Railways, pushed for frank feedback and was told that the Indian Railways was functional, and did not focus on improving service levels for passengers or freight users. The European officials added this was quite a change from the 1960s, when Indian Railways’ service was comparable with that in Europe.
Meanwhile, V.K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog, called for more research and development in India dedicated to the Railways, so that Make in India can be pushed further. “There is a case for dedicated R&D cadre in railways, as reasearch requires continuity in thought,” he said.
He added that Indian Railways should strive to build technology in its units. Referring to the bullet train project, Saraswat said the majority of the technology-critical work is being done by Japan, which will make the learning process for Indian engineers zero. He hoped Indian Railways takes up projects in a manner that increases the technical learning for India.