Friday, January 5, 2018

Siddharth Prabhakar| TNN | Updated: Jan 5, 2018, 

Chennai: Spending funds on installing and maintenance of signalling infrastructure at level-crossings is 'infructuous' as it does not improve safety and Indian railways should concentrate on constructing subways and over-bridges instead, the chief commissioner of railway safety (CCRS) has written to the chairman of railway board.
The letter, written by CCRS Shailesh Kumar Pathak on December 26, states that there were 14 accidents at interlocked level-crossings from 2011-12 till date which is part of 408 accidents at level crossings.

"Thus the accident analysis indicates that interlocking of mid-section level crossings does not improve the safety as maximum accidents took place at unmanned level crossings," Pathak wrote in the letter.

Interlocked mid-section level crossing is a signalling system between two stations where the signal will turn green only when the LC gate is closed.

Though this system gives an operational flexibility, it also increases the total number of signals which challenges the loco-pilots and increases chances of signal passing at danger (SPAD) as the loco-pilot is not provided with any technological upgrade, Pathak said.

Moreover, it also poses a challenge for the maintenance staff given that there are 20% vacancies in the department, he said.

Pathak said that since the depth of water table at majority of LCs is more than 20 metre, zonal railways should replace the mid-section LCs by providing rail under bridge (RUB) and limited height subway (LHS).

"This would enhance safety by eliminating LCs from Indian Railway system and avoid infructuous expenditure on interlocking of LCs, save precious manpower for manning the LCs and its maintenance and also improve the train punctuality as trains will not be detained at faulty gate signals," Pathak wrote in the letter.

He has asked the railway board to pass necessary instructions to the zones.

However, railway officials are of the view that the CCRS suggestion is misplaced. "Railway is going for large-scale modernisation of signalling which will make the present system irrelevant. Also constructing a RUB/LHS at every level crossing is prohibitively expensive," one official said.

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