India: Level crossing elimination at a new high

11 Mar
Indian Railways is eliminating increasing numbers of level crossings as there is now support for this  driven off what is now a politically unacceptable loss of life on India’s railways. While cost effective grade-separation forms a significant component of the multi-year programme to reduce risk arising at level crossings, consolidation is a similarly acceptable approach from the railway perspective. However, consolidation is too often ineffective as many pedestrian users refuse to use a diversionary route that they consider an unacceptable additional distance to walk. This results in endemic trespass at some locations where there was until recently a level crossing.
In reply to a parliamentary question posed by MPs from several parties, Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha, released the following information that showed 1,740 level crossings eliminated in fiscal year 2014-2015 to January 31st, a further significant increase in the rate of progress shown in the chart below:


The figures for casualties shown in the chart below are distorted as it does not include pedestrians killed or injured in level crossing and other accidents is running at more than 20,000 per annum.

The objective remains to completely eliminate unmanned level crossing on India’s railway system, subject to the funding being released by the Indian Government. Going forward the strategy remains grade-separation where this can be justified, diversion via existing grade-separated routes across the railway or via manned level crossings or upgrading an unmanned level crossing to a manned status. Where a new grade-separated route is provided, this is often by means of a limited use underpass with larger vehicles diverted to another safe route across the railway,

Currently, Indian Railways has 18,785 manned and 11,563 unmanned level crossings of its 65,808 km length equating to a level crossing every 2.19 km.

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