Indian Railways will equip gangmen with a modern device called ‘Rakshak’ as part of a move to augment safety of its employees involved in track maintenance.
Gangmen, now redesignated as track maintainers, are most vulnerable to getting run over by trains while performing their duty round-the-clock. About 400 gangmen are killed every year in train accidents while on duty.
Rakshak, a walkie talkie-like equipment, will be used by gangmen to receive warnings from approaching trains which will alert them in time to move away from tracks.
Equipping gangmen with Rakshak is likely to be a major announcement in the Rail Budget 2016-17 in which Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to focus on the need for enhanced safety on the rail network.
Besides gangmen, railways will also address the issue of unmanned level-crossings, another death trap, by announcing installation of radio-based warning systems as part of the safety augmentation programme.
The high-frequency radio-based warning system, to be operated on solar power, will be strategically installed to warn road users.
“Gangmen are the most vulnerable to train accidents and about 400 get killed on tracks every year,” said a senior Railway official.
There are about 2 lakh gangmen in railways who are also involved in gate duty at level-crossings, besides patrolling the tracks for maintenance.
The device, estimated to cost about Rs 80,000 apiece, is currently undergoing trials.
Rakshak will be provided to gangmen in accident-prone areas in the first phase.
Besides Rakshak, supervisors of gangmen are also being provided walkie-talkie to monitor their deployment and train movement.
“Even though railways have started mechanised process in track maintenance, gangmen will still be required for the job,” said the official.