The Railways will soon roll out self-propelled coaches that can detect rail fractures through ultrasonic technology, the government has told the Parliament. The vehicles would eliminate the need for manual inspection of tracks in a gradual manner, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told the Lok Sabha yesterday. Prabhu said the decision to use such vehicles was taken to “ensure faster as well as more reliable testing.” The Railways is going to procure six self propelled ultrasonic rail testing (SPURT) cars at a cost of Rs 186.24 crore, the minister said.
The Northern Railway has invited tenders for testing 30,400 kilometres of tracks using the technology on Rajdhani routes between New Delhi–Mugalsarai and New Delhi-Ratlam sections. Prabhu also said one of his goals was to eliminate unmanned railway crossings. He said the Railways is planning to eliminate unmanned level crossings on broad-gauge sections by 2020.
As of April 2017, the Indian Railways has 27,181 level crossings, out of which 19,480 are manned. Out of the total 7,701 unmanned level crossings, 4,943 are on broad-gauge sections. The minister also said that the Railways is planning to upgrade the safety features on its coaches.
As a part of this, it has been decided that only Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches would be manufactured from 2018- 19. “LHB coaches are of a superior design that reduces the chances of derailment and mitigates the possibility of grievous injury or death in case of accidents,” the minister informed the Parliament.
The Railways has in 2017-18, also created a fund — the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) — for financing critical safety related work. The fund has been created with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years.