Senior Divisional Commercial Manager says it will be done in the next four to five years
All unmanned level-crossings in Mysore division will be eliminated in a phased manner in the next four to five years. They will be provided with either level-crossing gates or subways to avoid accidents.
Disclosing this to The Hindu, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager Anup Dayanand Sadhu said the Railways has taken a policy decision to eliminate unmanned level-crossings across the country in five years.
He was speaking in the aftermath of the train accident at an unmanned level-crossing near Belagola on Saturday in which two persons were killed when the Arsikere-Mysore Passenger train rammed a car that was stuck on the tracks.
Referring to the accident, Mr. Sadhu said there was a speed restriction of 65 kmph for all trains at that point, as there was no clear line of sight beyond 400 metres for the road users. It was mandatory to have visibility of at least 400 metres on either side of the gate for the benefit of public. In cases where the visibility was low, there were speed restrictions and it was mandatory for locomotive drivers to blow their horns continuously until the unmanned level-crossing had been passed, said Mr. Sadhu.
But the onus is on the road user, who is supposed to stop and wait 10 metres away from the railway track and watch out for any approaching trains, as there is little that a locomotive driver can do to halt a train within a short distance.
Mr. Sadhu said there were nearly 330 unmanned level-crossings in the division and the authorities have been given a target to totally eliminate unmanned level-crossings. This will entail providing gates or facilitate construction of subways to provide uninterrupted movement of vehicles where possible.
However, Mr. Sadhu said the Mysore division was contemplating the construction of road under-bridges (RUBs) of low height as it would be a permanent solution with a one-time expenditure. It would also obviate the need for a permanent gateman.
The cost of constructing small RUBs will be borne by the Railways. But in cases where the length of the RUBs mandates large investment, the work will be taken up on a cost-sharing basis. The target will be achieved by identifying 70 unmanned level-crossings each year and ultimately all of the crossings will be secured to eliminate the possibility of any accident in future, according to Mr. Sadhu.
In the Mysore division, 40 sites have been identified for subways or RUBs with limited height. The focus on eliminating unmanned crossings is a result of the renewed attempt to ensure the safety of both rail passengers and the public, as well as to avoid damage to the Railways' property.
The Railways has also begun distributing pamphlets in the vicinity of unmanned level-crossings to spread awareness of the dangers of crossing the track in the face of arriving trains, as motorists misjudge the speed of the approaching trains, according to Mr. Sadhu.