Anil Kakodkar Committee in Railway Safety Recommendations

The High level safety review committee constituted for the ministry of Railways has recommended many measures to prevent rail accidents. The committee headed by Dr Anil Kakodkar, former Atomic Energy Commission chairman and former managing director of Delhi Metro Rail corporation E Sreedharan one of its advisors, has given the following suggestions:

  • There should be an independent body like Railway Safety Authority under the government with chairman and experts from outside.
  • A robust and powerful Safety Architecture should be there have a safety oversight on the operational mode of Railways.
  • Elimination of both manned and unmanned level crossings within the next five years as a measure of avoiding accidents and deaths. Such a step would “not only eliminate the accidents at level crossings which account for 65 per cent of total deaths due to train accidents but will also improve the line capacity as trains get held up at busy LC gates. It will also save operation and maintenance costs incurred in the gates.
  • The Panel said that if all the recommendations will be accepted there will be a total financial implication of one lakh crore rupees in five years.
  • While proposing funds to the tune of Rs.50,000 crore for doing away with level crossings, the panel has noted that apart from saving lives, the investment could be recouped in about 8 years as the monetary saving from a phase-out of level crossings would be in the region of Rs.7,000 crore per annum.
  • Committee recommended monitoring of all the bridges in terms of scientific measurements of deflections/displacements, water level and flow velocity on a continuous basis and data should be communicated to the office of the concerned Chief Bridge Engineer for monitoring.
  • Panel notes that Railways had classified at least 3,000 bridges to be 100 years old or more and 32 bridges as distressed structures, wanted vulnerable bridges fitted with water level gauges and turbine flow meters to measure flow which should be interlocked in a way to warn the driver of the approaching train.
  • The panel has recommended an advanced signalling system based on continuous track circuiting and cab signalling similar to European train control system Level-II on the entire trunk route of about 19,000 route kilometres at an estimated cost of Rs.20,000 crore within five years.
  • The Kakodkar committee’s analysis of data for the last five years showed that in the Indian Railway system spread across 64,000 route kilometres, derailments accounted for nearly half the total accidents followed by accidents at unmanned level crossing gates (36 per cent). Level crossing incidents contributed to 59 per cent of the deaths and 42 per cent of casualties.

An extrapolation of the committee’s recommendation to the Southern Railway network would involve the elimination of 2,782 gates, of which 1,042 remain unmanned. While over the last five years, train accidents at unmanned level crossings have been relatively low, the zero-casualty target set by the Railways could become redundant if the Kakodkar committee’s recommendation is implemented.