Work to be completed by 2012 end

The Southern Railway will ensure that all the level crossings in the State are manned, by December 2012. This may in all probability make Kerala the first State to achieve that status, Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway Manager Rajiv Dutt Sharma has said.

He was addressing media persons here on Saturday, before flagging off a ‘Safety Awareness Ratha Yathra' organised to create awareness of the need for motorists and pedestrians to exercise caution at railway level crossings. Of the 430 level crossings in the State, 298 are manned. Of them, 185 are interlocked and 20 more will be interlocked soon.

The maximum number of unmanned level crossings is located in the Kayamkulam-Alappuzha-Ernakulam sector. Referring to the recent accident at a level crossing in the sector that claimed the life of five people, Mr. Sharma said that the collision occurred as the driver was in a haste to cross over to the other side. Plans are afoot to post gatekeepers at 90 of the 108 unmanned crossings in the Thiruvananthapuram Division. The cost of manning an unmanned crossing is about Rs.30 lakh and the recurring maintenance charge is Rs.20 lakh a year.

A total of 280 ex-servicemen would be posted to man the crossings across the State. This apart, building overbridges at congested level crossings would enhance safety and also decongest traffic, he said. “Though nine unmanned crossings in Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts will be closed and the traffic diverted through the nearest manned crossing, there is resistance in Kerala against similar initiatives,” Mr. Sharma said.

Ernakulam Area Manager George John and Senior PRO P. Narayanan were present.

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