Indian Railways is looking to set up a massive fund of over Rs 1.1 lakh crore to upgrade its infrastructure to improve safety standards and avoid accidents. The fund will be named Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK).
The Railway Ministry has formed a six-member committee to work out a blueprint for the programme including the identification of sources for fund generation and areas that need spending.
"The idea is to seek a bulk of this fund from the finance ministry which will be channelised for multiple projects. This includes around Rs 40,000 crore for elimination of unmanned level crossings and replacing the old signalling and telecom infrastructure which are responsible for more than a half of train accidents," a senior railway board official told Business Standard, requesting anonymity.
After receiving "inputs on fund requirements" from various departments in the Railways, the committee will come out with a consolidated proposal within a month and submit it to the Finance Ministry.
"The initial estimate works out to Rs 1,10,239 crore, but it is likely to be expanded further," said the official.
However, another senior Railway Board official said discussions on the sources for the fund are still at an early stage.
"It is still not clear whether a separate cess would have to be levied to create the fund like it was done in 2001. But the fund would be used largely for addressing safety-related issues," he said.
Earlier this month, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu held a meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in which he asked for assistance to set up a "special fund" for safety upgradation.
Officials said the fund will be utilised for removal of level crossings, track renewals and signal upgradation.