NEW DELHI: Travel by trains is set to be safer as railways claims to have carried out renewal of 4,405 km of old tracks with new rails in 2017-18 – the highest ever in a financial year.
An official statement said, “This is the highest ever progress of track renewal (primary) and exceeds the target of 4,389 km (revised to 4,400 km) for the year.”
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The state-run transporter said that the previous best was 4,175 km in 2004-05 due to the deployment of the special rail safety fund which was set up during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime. As per railways data, during March 2018, 642 km rail renewal was carried out, which is the best ever progress in any month. The transporter has a network of total track length of 1,14,907 kilometres and of this, on an average 4,500 kilometres of track should ideally be renewed annually.
But, due to financial constraints the progress of track renewals was constantly coming down in last several years and resulted in huge backlog of around 5,000 km track for renewal and led to several accidents due to derailments. Railways has said the government accorded the highest priority to safety, due to which the number of derailments between April 2017 and February 2018 had come do- wn to 53, as compared to 76 from April 2016 to February 2017. After taking over, Piyush Goyal who had replaced Suresh Prabhu as railways minister after the Utkal Express derailment, directed track renewal to be fast-tracked.