Railway staff swing into action after a woman was killed in goods train-bus collision

A day after an elderly woman died when a goods train hit a small bus at Adyar, villagers thwarted an attempt on Monday by railway officials to close the “unauthorised” crossing there.

Around 6 a.m. in the morning, officials from the Mysore Railways Division visited the spot, and after declaring the two-laned road as unauthorised attempted to barricade the road.

However, close to 500 villagers staged a flash protest, and even threatened to block train movement if the road was closed, said Sudhakar Adyar, vice-president, Adyar Gram Panchayat. “This is an important road connecting Adyar Kannur to Moodbidri and Neermarga. The road was recently upgraded,” he said.

He said that since 1985, the panchayat had forwarded applications to the Railways for a crossing or an underpass there. “Three years ago, officials estimated the cost of an underpass at Rs. 68 lakh. The State government is yet to sanction funds,” said Mr. Adyar.

Sunday’s accident, which killed 60-year-old Zulekha and injured five persons when the bus spun and fell into a ditch after being hit by the train, wasn’t the first at the spot. Two years ago, said villagers, Mitradas Hamir, a motorcycle rider, was killed after a train ran him over. “The incline is steep, and so motorists accelerate when approaching the crossing. There is little chance of seeing a speeding train (when coming from National Highway 75), due to the thicket of trees on the left side,” said Harish Shetty, a resident.

Railway officials relented after protestors stopped the Bangalore-Mangalore train for a few minutes. However, in a bid to make the crossing safer, officials cut down a few trees on the left side of the road and installed speed breakers on either side of the road.

MP intervenes

Meanwhile, a meeting was held later on Monday between gram panchayat members, district administration, elected representatives and railway officials. “The underpass will cost around Rs. 92 lakh, and we urge the State government to pay it up at the earliest,” said MP Nalin Kumar Kateel in a release after the meeting.

Officials at the Mysore Railways Division told The Hindu that traversing on the road “technically amounts to trespassing. The road has not even been accorded an unmanned level-crossing status. By procedure, we should barricade it,” said the official.

On the possibility of an underpass there, the official said it was “unlikely” the Railways would bear any of the cost. “Only if the density is above 1 lakh vehicles, we share the cost. The traffic here is not even close to that figure, and the State will have to pay the full amount,” he said.

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