The Indian Railways had 8,948 UMLCs on its broad gauge network in April 2014. According to officials close to the development, the railways is likely to officially mark the achievement at a public function.
Earlier, the plan was to go for targeted elimination of UMLCs by March 2020. The move gathered steam in April 2018, after 13 children were killed in Kushinagar when a train hit a school van. “We have only one UMLC left on our railway network now. Elimination of UMLCs was a top priority of this government. This was important as such level crossings used to be a big safety constraint for both rail and road users,” said an official close to the development.
Majority of such UMLCs were eliminated by closure, merger, introducing subway and manning. Interestingly, the country’s railway network still has close to 1,500 UMLCs on meter gauge and narrow gauge. About 93 per cent of the total network of over 120,000 km is under broad gauge. Due to the speed up in the elimination of UMLCs, the number of deaths at such level crossings came down from 148 in 2007-08 to a mere 26 during the last financial year.
Based on data available with the Indian Railways, the number of people who died on railway tracks because of trespassing — including those who died while passing through the railway level crossings or the culverts on small rivers, drainages — was 12,661 in 2017. This was 13,129 in 2016 and 13,093 in 2015.
Besides railway crossings, a major reason behind the rise in accidents has been due to a staff crunch in the safety category. As on January 2019, a total of 1,51348 posts are lying vacant in safety category in Group ‘C’ and erstwhile Group ‘D’ in zonal railways. To fill in these vacancies, a total of 66,682 candidates (including 57,851 for safety category posts) have been empanelled for various Group ‘C’ posts on Indian Railways through Railway Recruitment Board (RRB).
In addition to this, computer-based tests to fill 64,371 vacancies at assistant loco pilot (ALPs) and technician level were conducted in August and September 2018. Moreover, tests for 62,907 vacancies in Level-1 (erstwhile Group ‘D’) posts were conducted between September to December 2018 in multiple shifts.