Indian Railways News

Land Acquisition For Bullet Train Will Be Done By December: Rail Minister

Railway minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said land acquisition for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor would be completed by December this year.

He also said that five more high speed corridors are being planned, including Agra-Varanasi, Delhi-Chandigarh and Mumbai-Bengaluru.

The minister was speaking at The Economist India Summit 2018.

“Land acquisition procedure for the first bullet train project (Mumbai-Ahmedabad) will be over by December this year. We are taking more time because we engage land owners and hold dialogue for acquisition. We want to take them into confidence,” he said.

He claimed that, despite a slight delay in land acquisition, the project may be completed before deadline due to developments in the engineering sector.

He informed that work related to designing and assembling machines to build a 27 km under-sea tunnel as part of the project was progressing.

The National High Speed Rail Corporation, a special purpose vehicle of the Railways and the state governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat, is implementing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor with technical and financial assistance from Japan.

“There are five more corridors being planned for high speed trains. Agra-Varanasi, Delhi-Chandigarh and Mumbai-Bengaluru are being worked on,” he said.

Mr Goyal, however, did not mention the other two routes on which such high speed trains were being planned.

“I am personally passionate about the Agra-Varanasi train project. It could be semi-high speed but it will be very helpful,” he said.

Varanasi is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency.

Talking about future plans, he said, “There are some coal transporting routes which I completed on priority. Some are nearing completion, which have solved several problems of coal transportation and its availability forever.”

Another big plan, the minister said, was to extend the free Wifi service from 700 stations currently to 5,300.

In Mumbai, Over 18,400 People Died Between 2013-18 In Train Accidents

A Right To Information plea has found that 18,423 people died and 18,847 people were injured in suburban train-related accidents between January 2013 to August 2018.

Replying to the RTI query filed by activist Shakeel Ahmad, the Mumbai railway police commissionerate said that these casualties occurred due to passengers falling from trains, dashing against poles, crossing railway tracks or travelling on the roof of trains.

Providing a break-up, the RTI reply stated that 3,506 people died in 2013, 3,423 in 2014, 3,304 in 2015, 3,202 in 2016, 3,014 2017 and 1,974 in the first 8 months of the current year.

Speaking on the declining figures, Ravinder Bhakar, chief PRO of Western Railway said, “We have taken several measures to curb deaths by constructing FOBs, fencing, conducting aerial survey of accident prone areas and counselling passengers.”

A railway police official said that these figures include those who committed suicide by jumping in front of trains.

RTI activist Ahmad said that the railways had to do still more to stop track deaths.

“Railways have failed to comply with the orders of the Bombay High Court in this regard. These numbers will come down if railway officials are forced to travel by trains,” he contended.

50,000 People Killed In Train Accidents In 2 Years, Says Railways’ Data

Nearly 50,000 people have lost their lives between 2015 and 2017 on railway tracks after being hit by trains, according to official data from the Indian Railways.

A train mowed down 62 people as they were watching a Ravan effigy being burnt while standing on railway tracks near Amritsar on October 19, leading to questions how the national transporter could prevent such deaths.

Data provided by the railways states, 49,790 deaths happened because people were hit by trains on tracks from 2015 to 2017.

Most of the deaths were reported from the Northern Railway zone at 7,908, followed by 6,149 deaths from the Southern Railway zone and 5,670 deaths from the Eastern Railway zone.

The Government Railway Police (GRP) collates data on such deaths zone-wise and the data for this year hasn’t been collated yet, railways said on Sunday.

Deaths on railway tracks occur due to trespassing, violating safety and cautionary instructions, avoiding over-bridges, using mobile phones and other electronic gadgets when crossing railway tracks.

Officials said the railways has taken corrective measures such as regular announcements through passenger address system at stations, urging passengers to use foot-over bridges (FOBs), awareness drives against trespassing were conducted, construction of boundary walls, warning signs were erected to prevent accidental deaths on railway tracks.

Trespassing on railway premises, including on tracks, is a punishable offence under Section 147 of the Railways Act, 1989.

During 2018, as of September, 1,20,923 people were arrested and prosecuted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) for intruding the railway system.

Under Section 147 of Indian Railway Act, a total fine of Rs. 2.94 crore was imposed on them by courts during the period, according to data provided by the railways.

 

Agency To Redevelop, Modernise Railway Stations Gets Cabinet Nod

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved creation of an agency for a coordinated development and modernisation of railway stations in the country, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

According to Ravi Shankar Prasad, the name of the agency would be Indian Railway Stations Development Corp Ltd (IRSDC).

Calling the cabinet decision a progressive move, Mr Prasad said: “Indian Railway Stations Development Corp Ltd shall be the nodal agency for the development of railway stations across the country.”

Developing railway facilities will not only benefit the commuters but also help the Indian Railways make use of its unused or under-used properties.

“It was a decisions based on the feedbacks collected from the government’s earlier railway modernisation attempts,” Mr Prasad said.