41 cases have been reported and Rs. 3.79 lakh collected as fine this year

On a bright Wednesday afternoon last week, a sugarcane-laden lorry while crossing a manned railway gate in the Villupuram-Puducherry section hit a height gauge, connected with the gate, causing damage to it. The lorry driver, Govindan, was arrested by a Railway Protection Force (RPF) officer and a case slapped on him under Section 154 of the Railway Act.

Before this, another incident occurred wherein a government bus hit a gate boom between Tiruvannamalai and Thandalai. A case was booked and fine amount realised from the bus driver. The two constitute a series of such instances of damage to manned gates caused by road vehicles in the vast jurisdiction of Tiruchi Railway Division this year. Damage to manned gates or equipment connected with them by errant road users in different sections falling within the division causes concern among the railway authorities.

Such accidents result in loss of railway property and in some cases affect punctuality of trains, say railway officials. A majority of such incidents have been reported in the Villupuram–Katpadi, Villupuram–Puducherry, and Villupuram–Cuddalore broad gauge section. In the last 11 months, 41 cases have been reported across the division with RPF personnel registering cases against the accused and realising fine amounting to Rs. 3.79 lakh from them, according to railway sources.

Tiruchi Railway Division accounts for a total number of 353 manned gates and 222 unmanned level crossings. The railway officials say warning boards have been installed a few metres ahead of the manned gates. Besides, speed breakers have been laid 20 metres from the level-crossings.

RPF officials say a case under Section 160 (2) of the Railway Act is booked when a road user breaks any gate or chain or barrier set up on either side of a level crossing which is closed to road traffic. As per the Act, the errant road user is liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years.