Motorists negotiating the stretch of Chennai Tiruvallur High Road at Pattabiram dread passing by the road during evening hours. They wait for over two hours for the level-crossing gate on the road to be opened.
They have now demanded that a road overbridge be built to replace it.
Residents of Pattabiram said besides trains carrying goods, over 20 train services are operated to the Pattabiram Military Siding railway station on the route. Trains pass the stretch every hour.
The level-crossing on the arterial road often gets damaged, and signals at the interlocked facility become non-operational. Vehicles, trying to pass the gate before it closes, often damage the gate. This results in a pile-up of vehicles and also delays the trains, they said.
V. Jaishankar, a resident of Lakshmipuram, Thiruninravur, said this happens at least once a week and vehicles get piled up for nearly two km on both sides of the level crossing. The automatically operated level-crossing requires repair frequently, he added.
“It often takes two hours for the traffic congestion to clear as the railway personnel struggle to open the damaged gate.
Last week, my daughter who usually returns home from school by 4.30 p.m. reached home only at around 7 p.m. Her bus was stuck in traffic due to a delay in opening the gate,” he said.
Residents of Pattabiram and Thiruninravur said traffic is intense during evening hours as vehicles, including school and college buses vie for space on the narrow road.
T. Sadagopan, a consumer activist in Pattabiram, said vehicles wait for nearly four hours for the traffic to clear on the stretch. It is necessary to replace the level-crossing with a road overbridge, as the outer ring road would be linked with CTH Road just one km away.
Residents suggest that an additional facility could be built when the proposal to widen the arterial road linking Chennai to Tirupathi is implemented.
Officials of Southern Railway said that a road overbridge, which is normally a joint venture with the State government, can be built only in localities where the train vehicle units are over one lakh per day.
“Construction of a road overbridge on CTH Road may not be possible as the TVUs are less than one lakh. We are planning to provide additional sliding barriers at the level-crossing to act as a buffer to the signalling system,” said an official.