Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Nov 05, 2004
Kerala: Railways to launch drive for safety at level crossings
Thiruvananthapuram , Nov 4
THE Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division is contemplating the induction of Regional Transport Officers from the State Government cadre who will be deputed for counselling and disciplining road users at level crossings.
Human errors and operational problems associated with non-signalled railway gates mean inevitable detention of road users, often leading to fraying of tempers and worse, according to Dr G. Narayanan, Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananthapuram.
These gates will have to be converted into signalled gates in a phased manner, he said in a presentation on `Towards safe crossing'.
The Thiruvananthapuram Division has 165 non-signalled gates, of which 82 have been sanctioned to being converted into signalled ones, Dr Narayanan said.
Safety at unmanned level crossings depends to a large extent on vigilance of road users. The Division has 168 unmanned level crossings and sanctions have been obtained in respect of 26 of them to be converted into manned ones.
Manned level crossings are of two types - signalled (interlocked) and non-signalled (non-interlocked). At signalled level crossings, the gates are protected with signals for regulating train movements. Closing of the gates and operation of the signals are interconnected, which raises the safety levels of both road users and rail passengers.
Trains are adequately warned with signal aspects while approaching the level crossings. The Thiruvananthapuram Division has 102 signalled gates.
Non-signalled gates are not protected with signals and the gates are opened/closed based on what transpires in the telephone communication with the nearest Station Master. These gates do pose risk depending on the level of alertness of the gatekeepers.
Erring and impatient road users have often brought pressure to bear on the gatekeepers forcing them to open the gates to potential danger.
Dr Narayanan referred to a novel initiative being attempted by the Division to involve celebrities to counsel road users against flouting of rules. Popular Malayalam cine artist Mohan Lal has been roped in to make an appearance in a short film on good road behaviour. The film will be screened to a captive audience at the level crossings that await passage of a train.
Busy level crossings are impediments to smooth flow of traffic and are generally risk prone. They qualify for replacement by road over/under bridges (ROB/RUBs) on a cost-sharing basis with the State Government provided the traffic density amounts to more than one lakh train vehicle units.
The cost of bridge and approaches, excluding that of land acquisition, is initially shared with the State Government on a 50:50 basis. After completion and certification, the Centre reimburses the State Government's share of cost. The Thiruvananthapuram Division has 42 level crossings qualifying for treatment in this manner.
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