All unmanned level crossings will be removed within a year: Piyush Goyal

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 10, 2018

Ambitious goal: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal addressing students at IIM-Calcutta - Photo: Debasish Bhaduri

Piyush Goyal

The railways will leverage technology to improve efficiency, says Minister

All unmanned level crossings will be removed within a year, the newly appointed Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal, said.

According to him, there are about 5000 such level crossings. Their removal will reduce accidents by nearly 30-35 per cent.

“Initially, the Railways had a target of removing all unmanned crossings in three years. But, I told them, why not do it within a year,” he told students during Lattice — a PGPEX Annual Business Conclave — at IIM-Calcutta.

The cost burden, the Minister said, would also substantially reduce if the Railways takes up work simultaneously rather than one-at-a-time.

Goyal had last week chaired a high-level meeting on train safety to take stock of major issues in the wake of several accidents and derailments.

“Why would removing unmanned crossing be so difficult? All you need is some infrastructure and a set of communication devices. The RailTel has already prepared the optic fibre network for improving communication. So I told the Railways officials to complete the work within a year,” he added.

Use of technology

Pointing out that he was in favour of the Railways leveraging technology to improve efficiency, Goyal claimed to have mooted the idea of floating global tenders for new Railway tracks. Officials have also been urged to look into the upkeep of railway tracks and expedite procurement processes. They have also been asked to explore options that include using technology for overseeing the condition of tracks. At present, the Railways deploys linesmen for the job. To a specific question on the time-frame within which the global tenders will be floated, Goyal said: “These are just ideas that we have discussed. Let’s see how soon we can take them forward.”

Coal crisis

The Minister said he was hopeful of tiding over the coal shortage — that some power plants are facing — over the next 15-20 days. Goyal has already held a review meeting with Coal India and the Railways to look into the matter.

“I have held a review meeting with Coal India and Railways. In the next 15-20 days we will see a change,” he said.

The Minister, however, blamed the State governments and power plants for the coal shortage.

According to him, there are transportation challenges during the monsoon.

This, coupled with floods in Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand’s coal mining areas, resulted in supply challenges to power plants.

He pointed out that power plants had also not heeded to the advice of stocking up well in advance.

“Every year, the demand for coal during the monsoon increases and transportation becomes a challenge. For the last four months, we had asked all the State governments to stock up coal. They are suppose to keep coal for 22-35 days but the plants have brought it down to 12-13 days, and now they are paying the price,” he added.

Published on September 09, 2017

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