After UP accident, Railways says will remove unmanned-crossings in 2-years
Hours after 13 children were killed in UP after their vehicle was hit by a train, the Railways has said that it plans to "completely eliminate" unmanned level crossings by March 31, 2020. "In unmanned rail crossings, the responsibility is of road users. But because it happens on our premises, we are concerned about it," said Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani.
Unmanned crossings on high-speed and suburban corridors to go first
Elaborating on the department's plans, Lohani said unmanned crossings on high-speed and suburban corridors will go by June'18. "We have eliminated 1,565 rail crossings in 2017-18 while this year the target is to eliminate 1,500 more." "After March 31, 2020, about 400 crossings where one or two trains pass in a day will be left which we will cover later," he added.
Railways takes ISRO help in the mission
To check accidents at unmanned crossings, ISRO has installed its ICs on five engines and hooters at such crossings. The hooter, linked to NaVIC, will be activated as soon as an IC reaches within 500m-4km of it. It will keep getting louder as the train nears, thus warning people on road. If the project is successful, it will be implemented across the country.
Unmanned level crossings were supposed to be removed by September'18
Incidentally, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had said in September'17 that all unmanned level crossings will be eliminated within a year. Lohani said it takes a lot of time to do it "as there are 3,479 such crossings on broad gauge."
Not all crossings will be removed, some will be modified
Among crossings on broad gauge, "40% will be converted into manned crossings, while at other places, road over-bridge or under-bridge will be constructed," Lohani said. "At 2,514 crossings, 'gate mitras' have been deployed in single-shifts while at 1,869 locations, they have been deployed in double-shifts," Lohani added. 'Gate mitras' are local residents who are posted at unmanned crossings to warn people about approaching trains.
Accidents at unmanned level crossings decreasing yearly
Unmanned level crossings are a major reason for railway mishaps, but accidents have been reducing gradually, HT reports: from 50 in 2014-15, 29 in 2015-16 and 20 in 2016-17 to 10 in 2017-18. As of December'17, India had 14,440 of them.