Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal charted out an exhaustive plan for improving rail safety while presenting Rail Budget 2013-14 here on Tuesday.
Bansal said 17 bridge renovation works would get priority this fiscal.
Expressing concern that 40 per cent of consequential accidents and 60 per cent of fatalities on the rail network happened at level crossings (LCs), he said a time-bound plan to eliminate 10,797 LCs by 2017 would begin soon. Also, no new LC would be introduced henceforth.
To eliminate all 31,846 LCs in the country, he said a whopping `37,000 crore would be required.
Bansal said Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Train Protection Warning System and automatic signalling system would be introduced soon.
An indigenously developed TCAS is being currently tested.
The minister said the Railways would put continued thrust on improved signalling to ensure safety of train operations and to enhance track capacity, allowing operation of more trains.
Bansal said the new generation light weight coaches would be introduced in more trains.
The new coaches feature an anti-climb feature, preventing them from climbing on one another in the event of an accident. Moreover, coaches would be equipped with advanced fire and smoke detection system. Portable fire extinguishers in guard-cum-brake vans, AC coaches and pantry cars in all trains are other announcements. Bansal said the new coaches would be built using fire retardant furnishing materials. A corporate safety plan for 10 years -- 2014 to 2024 -- would be introduced for improving rail safety.
The minister said the number of accidents went down, though the passenger load had been on the rise. For improving safety of rails, 260-m-long welded rail panels and improved flash butt welding technology would be used. Self Propelled Accident Relief Trains with speed potential of 160 to 200 kmph would be introduced on trial basis with a view to putting in place a fast and reliable disaster management system.
The ministry has also taken steps in consultation with the Environment and Forest Ministry to bring down accidents involving elephant deaths.