Lalu Prasad’s fifth rail budget paid attention to rail and passenger security, hiking allocation to replace overused tracks from Rs 5,450 crore to Rs 7,000 crore.
This would also include repair and replacement of signals. As much as 16,538 km of tracks and signals at 2,359 stations have been identified as “overused”.
The Railway Minister also spoke of introducing anti-collision devices in a phased manner in the entire network. It would prevent head-on collision as well as collisions from the rear. Last year, though, was good for the railways as there were fewer accidents reported. They have come down from 234 in 2005-6 to 195 in the last fiscal.
A master plan has also been prepared to install acoustic bearing detectors and wheel impact load detectors at strategic locations for online monitoring of rolling stock. Acoustic bearing detectors would provide early warning on possible defects in the bearing box and improve protection and reliability of rolling stock and track.
In the next five years, the analog-based machines would be replaced with digital systems to ensure more accurate data on track defects.
Plans are afoot to fill up vacancies in the railway protection force so that no level crossing stays unmanned. Right now, 5,700 posts of constables and 993 posts of sub-inspectors are vacant. These will be filled up through a recruitment drive by May. Recruitments to 973 additional posts recently created will be done next year.