9 Years Of Modi Govt: Focus On Making Indian Railways Safer Than Ever – A Look At Transformation

As the Narendra Modi led-BJP government is celebrating nine years at the Centre, during the period, the Indian Railways — which still remains one of the preferable mode of transport — has made huge strides in terms of safety. The number of accidents dropped from 1,243 between 2006-07 and 2013-14 to 638 between 2014-15 and 2022-23. Not just accidents, modernization of the Indian Railways has created ripples globally. By deploying technologies like Kavach and making modern trains like Vande Bharat Express, Indian Railways has transformed itself into a modern transporter.

A senior railway ministry official said that after the BJP government came to power, focus has been on improving the safety of passengers and to stop the rail accidents. “With zero tolerance for rail accidents, safety was given the topmost priority in the railways. And the ministry worked towards removing the unmanned railway crossings which posed a grave threat to safety,” the official said. Here’s a look at the achievements:

Reducing Rail Accidents

The efforts of the ministry paid off as the railways was able to bring down the consequential train accidents from 1,243 during the period 2006-07 to 2013-14, to 638 during the period 2014-15 to 2022-23 which is a reduction of 54 per cent on a per year basis, the official pointed out. Accidents per million train kilometers (APMTKM), an important Safety Index, were reduced from 0.23 in 2006-07 to 0.10 in 2013-14, and further to 0.03 in 2022-23, the official highlighted.

In the last five-year period between 2009-2014, 5,687 level crossing gates were eliminated. He said that the ministry had from April 2014 to January 2019, eliminated 8,948 Level Crossing gates, 3,479 of these in 2018-19 alone. The last unmanned level crossing (UMLC) on the broad gauge network of the railways was eliminated on January 31, 2019.

During 2019-2023, 3,981 Manned level crossings were also removed from the network. To improve the safety of passengers, the railways also decided to stop the production of the ICF type coaches from the year 2018-19 and go for the LHB coaches. The Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches are more technologically superior and have better riding, aesthetics and safety features than conventional Integral Coach Factory (ICF) type coaches.

The official said that a decision was taken for complete switchover to production of LHB coaches which have better crash-worthy features to withstand the effect of accidents in January 2018. Between 2009 and 2014, only 3,1860 LHB coaches were built on an average of 372 coaches per year. But from 2014-23, the pace of the manufacturing of new LHB coaches per year has now gone up to 3,550, as 31,956 coaches have been built in the last nine years.

Kavach Technology

The official further said that the ministry also decided to deploy indigenously developed National ATP (Automatic Train Protection) System named as “Kavach” on the main line network. This Kavach system has been developed to avoid over speeding, signal passing at danger and better train running in inclement weather like dense fog etc. hence better passenger safety.

Loco Production

The official said that the work has been sanctioned for more than 35,000 route km. Even the production of electric loco production has increased by twice in the last nine years, the official claimed. From 2009-14, only 1,230 electric locomotives were produced, with an average of 246 per year. However, between 2014 and 2023, as many as 5,253 electric locos were produced at an average of 584 every year, he said.

Focus On North East

Besides improving safety, the railway ministry also focused on connecting the northeast with the railway network. In the last nine years, the ministry has connected all the seven north eastern states with the rail network except Sikkim, where the work is in progress. He said that out of these seven north eastern states, rail connectivity to four — Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram — have been provided after 2014.

Rail connectivity to Meghalaya was done in November 2014, in Arunachal Pradesh’s Itanagar it was done in February 2015, Manipur’s Jiribam was connected with railways in May-2016 and Mizoram’s Bhairabi was brought on rail network in March-2016. The official said that the existing Meter Gauge (MG) railway line to Agartala in Tripura was converted into broad gauge in May 2016.