Unmanned railway crossings continue to be death traps

Unmanned railway crossings continue to take a heavy toll of human lives with 194 people killed in the last three years.

According to latest figures, 48 people were killed in mishaps at unmanned crossings during 2012-13, while 115 people were killed in 2011-12 and 31 in 2010-11.

While the number of accidents at unmanned railway gates continues, the cash-strapped national transporter is yet to put its act together to eliminate these death traps numbering about 12,582 across the country.

Though faced with financial stress, the transporter has set an ambitious target of eliminating 10,797 level crossings during the 12th five-year plan (2012-17) and not adding any new level crossing to the rail network in future.

Currently, railways has 31,254 level crossings, around 40% of which are unmanned. The unmanned crossings are responsible for the maximum number of train accidents, around 40%.

As manning these unmanned crossings has not been found to be an ideal solution, the transporter has decided to eliminate all such crossings. According to the Kakodkar committee, elimination of all level crossings (manned and unmanned) within five years would cost around Rs 50,000 crore which can be recovered over the next 7-8 years due to savings in operation and maintenance costs and improved train movement.

Railway officials blame states for the slow progress in eliminating level crossings or putting people in charges of the unmanned ones, saying they are not sharing the cost on a 50:50 basis.

Railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge had said that bridges could be constructed provided state governments or local bodies agreed to share 50% cost of the project.

He admitted that railways was not able to achieve the desired level of progress due to limited availability of funds which were being distributed over a large number of projects, .

The transporter paid Rs 10.88 lakh in compensation to families of victims of accidents at unmanned crossings in 2012-13, Rs 2.22 lakh in 2011-12 and Rs 17.41 lakh in 2010-11.


SCR to construct 25 limited height subways

Nearly one-third of the level crossings in the area covered by South Central Railway (SCR) are unmanned and efforts are on to ensure that the unmanned crossings are replaced with limited height subways (LHS) or introduce road diversions. This year, the SCR is planning to construct 25 LHS in its limits.

Every year, nearly 15 persons lose their lives in accidents while crossing these unmanned crossings and in almost all the cases, these accidents happen as those crossing the railway tracks do not observe the mandatory precautions, railway authorities say. According to a spokesman of the SCR, there are 2,122 level crossings in SCR area and of these, 705 are unmanned level crossings. The SCR’s safety action plan envisages converting all the unmanned level crossings by 2016 into either manned crossings or into LHS.

So far, 370 such level crossings were converted into LHSs or road diversions were planned, the spokesman disclosed.

“In fact, since last couple of years, the number of casualties came down. In 2012-13, four persons died and efforts are onto ensure zero accidents at these crossings,” says the spokesperson. Limited Height Subways, which are shorter versions of road under bridges, are being constructed every year at possible locations to ensure safe passage for road users. Since 2010-11, 60 such subways were constructed at different locations spending about Rs. 2 crore on each subway, he said.

Every year on an average, 15 persons lose their lives while crossing unmanned crossings. There are 2,122 level crossings in SCR area and of these, 705 are unmanned crossings.

Plans are on to convert all unmanned level crossings by 2016 into either manned crossings or into LHS and since 2010-11, 60 subways were constructed at different locations spending about Rs. 2 crore on each.


Published in: on May 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Events to make public wary of unmanned crossings

North Central Railway has geared up to celebrate International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD) on May 7. According to the plan, awareness drive will be carried at the railway crossings urging people to take precautions while passing manned and unmanned railway crossings. To enhance the safety and reduce inconvenience to road users, busy level crossings are being replaced by Road Over Bridges( ROB)/ Road Under Bridges(RUB) and Limited Height Sub Ways(LHS).

In the North Central Railway region comprising of the Allahabad division, Agra division and Jhansi division, there are about 1,512 level crossings. Among them, 1,028 are manned railway crossings and 453 are unmanned. There are five cattle crossings and 26 canal crossings.

In the financial year 2012-13, about 11 ROBs (railway over bridges) and 6 LHS (limited height subways) were constructed replacing the railway crossings. In addition to this, about seven manned level crossings were also closed in the previous financial year. About 30 LHS are also planned in financial year 2013-14.

On the occasion of International Level Crossing Awareness Day, general manager of North Central Railway Alok Johri will flag off a Mobile Video Van on Tuesday to disseminate information among public regarding precautions to be taken while crossing unmanned crossings.

The van will be equipped with high definition LED television which is the best medium for delivering the message to the target audience in most effective way. The Mobile Video Van is the best medium to reach out to people in remote villages as well as urban areas to make them aware of all the railway safety policies and initiatives taken by the North Central Railway.

Many campaigns through newspapers, TV and radio are being organised. Street plays are also being staged to spread awareness about safety measures to be taken at unmanned crossings.

On this occasion, public awareness campaign would be organised to counsel villagers, educational institutions and road users and make them aware of the provision of Motor vehicles Act and Railway Act by distributing posters, pamphlets, handbills in gram panchayats, markets, petrol pumps and other public places.

Talking to TOI, public relations officer of North Central Railway Amit Malviya said “On the occasion of International Level Crossing Awareness Day, we are undertaking several measures for creating awareness among people. General manager of NCR Alok Johri will flag off a mobile van to create awareness among the people. In addtion to this, nukkad nataks will also be organised near the unmanned crossings so that people were aware of safety measures to be adopted while going past the unmanned crossings.


Rlys to deploy guards at all crossings

Unmanned railway level crossings will be history in the state soon. Guards will be deployed at all unmanned level crossings in the state, minister of state for railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said here on Thursday. With the deployment of guards, Kerala will be the first state in the country without unmanned level crossings. The minister visited the Ernakulam-Alappuzha stretch, which has the most number of unmanned crossings. The Thiruvananthapuram railway division has 18 unmanned level crossings, while all crossings in Palakkad division are manned. Guards were deployed in as many as 36 unmanned crossings in Thiruvanathapuram division in 2012-13. Though the minister did not specify any timeframe to deploy guards at crossings, an official said all level crossings in the state would be manned by this year-end. Minister Chowdhury was in Kochi for the stone laying ceremony of escalators at the Ernakulam Junction (South) railway station.


Railways to phase out unmanned crossings

Indian Railways has decided to phase out all unmanned level crossings (ULCs) in the coming years. The unmanned level crossings will be eliminated through closure, merger or subways/railway under bridges.

The decision has been taken following review of the policy of manning of unmanned level crossings. It has emerged from the analysis of pattern of accidents that manning of unmanned level crossing is not an ideal solution.

On unmanned level crossings which have nil/negligible, Train Vehicle Unit (TVU) movement will be eventually closed. However, some of the unmanned crossings will be merged with a nearby manned or unmanned gates or subway or Road Under Bridge (RUB) or Road Over Bridge (ROB) by construction of diversion road. However, some of the unmanned crossings will be replaced with the provision of subways or construction of Railway Under Bridges (RUBs).

However, remaining of the unmanned level crossings which cannot be eliminated by above means, will be progressively manned based on rail-road traffic volume, visibility conditions for which there is following criteria. In category number I, all unmanned level crossings gates with Train Vehicle Unit (TVU) above 3000. In category number II, there are many unmanned level crossings gates with visibility restricted to 800 meters for road users and TVU above 2500. However, in category number III are all the unmanned level crossings which do not fall in category I and II.