Days after the Amritsar mishap, Indian Railways has decided to fence its tracks and ward off trespassers in residential areas by building 3,000 km of walls. According to an IE report, the national transporter has estimated that the project will cost around Rs 2,500 crore. The RCC (reinforced cement concrete) walls will be constructed at a height of 2.7 metres, along railway tracks which are surrounded by residential areas, in suburban areas as well as non-suburban areas. Vishwesh Chaube, Railway Board Member (Engineering), who is finalizing the project was quoted in the report saying that the move will prevent trespassing as well as cattle straying onto the railway tracks in areas which are vulnerable. Moreover, the height of the walls is such that dumping waste on the track will also not be easy, he added.
In order to obtain safety clearance for train speeds of 160 kmph, the Commission of Railway Safety stipulates that the railway tracks need to be fenced or walled. According to sources quoted in the report, with more stretches of the railway network set to get a speed upgrade, walls along railway tracks have become necessary and the move is linked to that as well. Additionally, boundary walls are also likely to be built at vulnerable areas along the Golden Quadrilateral and its diagonals.
According to the report, before the Amritsar incident, all the zonal railways came up with plans to build 2,000 km of walls in some areas identified as problematic. The project, which is a part of Union Budget 2018-2019, estimated to cost around Rs 650 crore. The works for these were being funded by the Rashtriya Rail Sanrakshana Kosh, which is a Rs 1 lakh crore special safety fund that is to be utilized in five years. Officials informed that the tenders have been floated already and are likely to be finalized by next month.
As per a report by the high-level safety review committee, headed by scientist Anil Kakodkar, in the Mumbai suburban railway area, trespassing takes place due to various reasons including lack of fencing, barricading, absence of adequate number of pedestrian overbridges, reluctance to replace pedestrian level crossings with FOBs etc.