All unmanned level crossings to go by year-end: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday asserted that the entire rail network will be unmanned level crossing-free by December.
The railways would also complete the Dedicated Freight Corridor by the end of 2020 which would ease the rail traffic, he said.
Interacting with the audience at the 16th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in Delhi, Goyal said: "Only three rail accidents happened due to unmanned level crossings in the last six months (April-October) as compared to 118 in 2013-14."
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to do away with all unmanned level crossings.
During 2014-17, the railways eliminated about 1,100 unmanned level crossings every year. "There were around 5,500 unmanned level crossings on the rail network across the country, out of which, around 5,000 have been eliminated as of September 30. The remaining 474 would be eliminated by December," Goyal said.
Initially, railway officials said it was not possible to eliminate all unmanned level crossings in a year but Goyal hailed them saying it is they who have achieved the target themselves.
According to Goyal, for the last 70 years the railways has expanded its patronage many times over, in terms of passengers and freight. It is now serving about 1,500 per cent more people and freight than what it did 50-60 years ago.
The Indian Railways has a very important role in the development of the country. Therefore, cumulatively (2014-2019) a total of Rs 5,30,000 crore would be invested as the capital expenditure (capex).
Pointing out that the rail infrastructure is 150 years old and the signalling system is 100 years old, Goyal said: "We are now on a transformational journey."
The Raebareli Coach Factory was announced in 2007-08 which did not produce a single coach until 2014. "In 2017, it made 700 LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches. In 2018, it will make 1,500 and my target for 2019 is 3,000 coaches," he said.
Besides the 1.3 million railway workforce, about 2.5 million are working in the railway ecosystem. "This is why we are investing over Rs 1,50,000 crore in the capex of railways in 2018, generating a lot of job opportunities."
Slamming the previous government for not taking the projects on "mission mode", Goyal said the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCIL) project was announced in 2007 but even by 2014, the work done was grossly inadequate.
"We have already started one stretch of the DFCCIL in 2018 and before March 2019, we would be starting three more stretches," he said.
He also attacked the previous government for not constructing the double line between Mumbai-Chennai-Hyderabad-Bengaluru and said all these stretches would have double lines by 2019.