Indian Railways ensuring safety at level crossings with infra upgrades

This massive infrastructure overhaul tackles head-on the notorious dangers of level crossings that have plagued the rail network for decades.
Vishwesh Chaube
Vishwesh Chaube

Indian Railways is waging an unprecedented war against one of the biggest threats to rail safety — level crossings. Through an astounding nationwide project, the Railways aims to construct a staggering three Road Overbridges (ROBs) or Road Underbridges (RUBs) every single day. This massive infrastructure overhaul tackles head-on the notorious dangers of level crossings that have plagued the rail network for decades.

A decade ago, the statistics were nothing short of alarming. Between 2004 and 2014, a staggering 596 accidents occurred at level crossings across India, resulting in a horrifying 1,439 fatalities. But a transformation has been set in motion. In the fiscal year 2023-24 alone, not a single accident was reported at level crossings — a monumental zero fatality rate achieved through the Railways’ robust drive to eliminate these perilous intersections.

The first phase saw all unmanned level crossings being converted to manned ones, immediately enhancing safety vigil. From 2019 to 2023, this proactive measure restricted level crossing accidents to just four incidents with nine fatalities. Compare that to the 1,439 lives lost in the preceding decade and the impact is undeniable.

But Indian Railways has an even bigger vision — to entirely eradicate level crossings themselves through an unprecedented nation-building effort. Within just one year, a whopping 1,078 ROBs and RUBs will be constructed, paving the way for seamless segregation of rail and road traffic at these conflict points. This is merely the start. Ultimately, 17,083 such crossings across the vast Indian Railways network will be eliminated in the years ahead.

The transformative impact can already be witnessed. While only 415 ROBs and RUBs were built from 2004 to 2014, the following decade from 2014 to 2024 has seen 1,195 such modern structures spring up, enhancing both rail and road connectivity across cities and towns.

This level crossing revamp is not just about statistics — it’s about safeguarding precious human lives. As trains grow faster and roads more congested, allowing intersections of these transport modes is a risk Indian Railways can no longer afford to take. Every ROB and RUB built is a potential tragedy averted, a family kept intact, a life secured for the future.

Funding this mammoth initiative is a continuous endeavor, with Railways mobilising resources to ensure financial backing for these critical safety projects. Except for level crossings at National Highway corridors, the Railways primarily bears the cost for this upgrade.

Indian Railways’ war on level crossings through this infrastructure overhaul is proof of its commitment to prioritising rail safety. As India’s rail network expands and modernises, eliminating these dangerous intersections is fundamental to achieving a future-ready, accident-free ecosystem for passenger and freight transport.

Vishwesh Chaube
Former member (Engineering), Railway Board

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The New Indian Express