Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Modernization And Security Challenges Before Indian Railways

Indian Railways is a wonder in itself. It is one of the world’s largest rail networks in terms of trains and the passenger it carries. To carry more number of passengers & that too with safety is the biggest concern. E.g. in Mumbai suburban area, railways alone carry 6 million passengers daily.

SAM PITRODA COMMITTEE                          

Sam Pitroda committee was appointed last year for giving recommendations for modernization of Indian Railways. Some key recommendations:

1. Modernization of 19000 tracks
2. Circling of 11250 bridges
3. Eliminating all level crossings
4. introduction of high hall freight bogies
5. Focused on 15 areas such as tracking bridges, signaling, rolling stock station, freight corridors, high speed trains, revive proposed and existing projects and various other things

Cost required: For modernization, it recommends a funding in the order of 5 lakh crore to 8 lakh crore expanding over next ten years. 71% of it is to be spent during the 12th plan.

Sources that can be used for this huge funding :

1. Budgetary support
2. Internal revenue generation by Railways
3. Monetization of blocked assets such as surplus land available with the Railways, and Public Private Partnerships
4. Fund raising from financial institutions and markets


Some of them may not be as essential as stated in the reports. So may not require the huge funding urgently. Therefore needs careful observation & prioritization of our needs. Some priority areas are :

1. Strengthening of tracks. Use of high capacity rails & long welded panels.
2. Rehabilitation of all the bridges particularly which are distressed.
3. Improvement of signaling technology. It will improve speed and safety of trains.
4. Use of higher capacity trains to carry more traffic.


Anil Kakodkar committee was appointed by government to review the safety of Indian Railways and recommend improvements. Total expenditure that will be incurred during 12th plan will be Rs. 1,00,000 crore.
  • Organizational changes are needed.
  • Government should stop announcement of laundry list of new train services.
  • Indian railways suffer from poor infrastructure and resources.
  • Safety margins squeezed due to inadequate funds especially due to the practice of not raising tariffs.
  • Need for independent Railway Safety Authority. All the three vital functions (rule making, operations and the regulation) are all vested in the Railway Board.
  • The Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO), the apex technical wing of the Railways, is highly constrained.
  • Recommends that a Railway Research and Development Council (RRDC) be set up directly under the government.
  • Recommends adopting use of Advanced Signaling System.
  • All level crossings (manned and unmanned) should be eliminated over 5 years.
  • Recommends switching over from ICF design coaches to the much safer LHB design coaches.


  • Irrespective of the cost involved, safety measures should be implemented in a phased and prioritized manner. That will provide “acknowledgement benefit” to the system.
  • Level crossings have to be focused and many level crossings have been eliminated already by over bridge or underpasses but total elimination is not possible as replacement of every level crossing is not cost-effective. (In case of manned level crossings responsibility lies with the man in charge at such crossings and in case of unmanned level crossings it is the responsibility of road users).
  • People need to be educated about level crossings & lessons have already been incorporated in school lessons.

1. Discuss modernization of Indian Railways in the light of Pitroda Committee.
2. Analyze the safety recommendations given by Anil Kakodkar Committee for the Indian Railways. 

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