New Delhi: With an aim to modernize the Indian Railways, a high-level committee chaired by Sam Pitroda, advisor to the Prime Minister, on Wednesday estimated Rs 5.6 lakh crore investments in the railways in next five years to upgrade signaling, tracks, rolling stocks and stations.

According to the recommendations, making railway operations accident free would remain in the priority list of concerned ministry. A cab signalling system similar to the European system and conversion of mechanical system to electronic interlocking has been also recommended by the Sam Pitroda panel.

According to the sources, the panel in its report stated that the old mechanical signal system is the major reason behind accidents. The panel has suggested replacing the mechanical signal system with the most advanced cab signalling system (enables driver to see the incoming signal on a screen fit inside in his cabin).

The report further stated that while 3.1 lakh crore could be generated from PPP ventures, Rs 2 lakh crore could be generated from financial service organizations. The panel has also suggested Rs 10,000 crore investments in infrastructure from current fiscal coinciding with the 12th Fifth-Year plan.

The panel has recommended modern signalling technologies for maximising track utilisation and high speed operations with safety. Besides, the panel has also sought to expedite the installation of Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) on busy lines to prevent accidents. At present, the TPWS is being installed in a suburban section in Chennai and the Delhi-Mathura non-suburban section on a trial basis.

According to the committee, Indian Railways should build elevated tracks for developing high-speed train system in India.

Pitroda panel has also stressed on modernizing 7,500 railway stations.

Earlier in September 2011, Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi had formed expert committees on railway safety and modernisation. While the safety committee is being headed by former Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar, modernisation panel is headed by National Innovative Council head Sam Pitroda.

The other members of the Pitroda committee include Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC Bank, MS Verma, former Chairman of SBI, professor Raghuram of IIM-Ahmedabad, Dr Rajiv Lal, MD, IDFC, and Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman, Feedback, Infrastructure Services.

The committee is slated to table its final report next week.