The Rail Budget is likely to lay strong emphasis on safety. With over 9,000 unmanned level crossings yet to be eliminated, Union railways minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to earmark substantial funds for their elimination.
The last year’s Rail Budget had allocated Rs 6,581 crores to eliminate over 3,438 level crossings. The Railways could eliminate 1,000 unmanned level crossings as per the figure available till middle of Februray this year. Incidentally, the speed to eliminate the unmanned level crossings seemingly did not match the target because of non-cooperation by the state governments.
“There are many instances where even after the road over bridges or road under bridges have been built, but the concerned state government did not close down the unmanned level crossing apparently due to local pressure.
There are instances where the state governments did not provide the required land for the approach roads,” said a senior official of the railway board.
Incidentally, the west-central zone of the railways has become the first zone to have completely eliminated all the unmanned level crossings. “The Madhya Pradesh government showed a lot of co-operation, and the result is that there is no unmanned level crossing in the state.
Similarly, the work is progressing at a satisfactory pace in Rajasthan where the state government has been able to cooperate with the railways and provide for the necessary land to build the approach roads,” added the official.
In the current financial year, the accidents have also come down at the unmanned level crossings. “There were 122 accidents at the unmanned level crossings in the financial year 2014-15 till the month of February. The number of accidents has come down to 98 in the same period in the current financial year,” said the official.