Safety plan doesn’t come cheap

Fortifying tracks between stations likely to cost Rs 2 crore per kilometre.  With the right of way belonging to the Indian Railways, trespassing on rail tracks is a punishable offence under the Indian Railways Act.

But with lakhs of people living by the side of a few 100-km-long tracks across Delhi, ensuring zero movement across the tracks is a big challenge.

Railway officials say they are taking a host of measures to minimise fatalities on rail tracks.

The initiatives include constructing foot overbridges near stations catering to local passengers, railway underbridges at some manned crossings, fortifying tracks, and creating more awareness among people, especially those living by the tracks.

“An RUB is being constructed at Mansarovar Park. Similarly, one RUB and an FOB are being constructed at crossing number three and four in Shahadra. Apart from that, a pathway is also being constructed along the tracks between New Delhi and Old Delhi railway stations for safe movement of people,” says a senior Northern Railway officer.

Railway officials say checking trespassing on tracks will yield result only if the entire stretch of the railway track network in the city is fortified. But encroachment upon railway land by the tracks and financial constraints are some of the major impediments in fortifying them.

Officials say while removal of encroachment is being taken up in association with the state government, the public transporter is now exploring private investment in infrastructure project, such as erecting walls on the sides of rail tracks in and around Delhi.

The project of fortifying tracks across Delhi is aimed at protecting railway property from miscreants, apart from checking fatal accidents.

The Northern Railway last year had issued ‘expression of interest’ inviting private players to construct walls on either sides of the tracks between Nizamuddin and Palwal railway stations, and in turn earn revenue by advertising on the walls.

The officials say a few private players have shown interest in the project, and the department will issue a tender for the project soon.

“The Nizamuddin-Palwal stretch has been selected as the pilot project as several high-speed trains operate on the stretch. Since the area on the sides of the track is open, it sees lots of trespassing, both by people and cattle,” says a senior Northern Railway officer.

“Similar projects will be taken up on other stretches of the division if the Nizamuddin-Palwal stretch becomes a success,” he adds.

The length of rail tracks between the two stations is 50 km. With the cost of construction estimated at Rs 2 crore per kilometre, the entire project will cost Rs 100 crore.

According to the EoI, the contractor will have to construct 2.5 metre high wall on both sides of the tracks, with additional fencing of the wall using concertina wires.

The investor will be allowed to earn revenue by allowing advertisements on the walls as well as erecting 1.2 metre high poles on the walls for display. The advertisement rights will be given for a certain number of years.