In its endevour to achieve the “zero accident” target, railways has undertaken an action plan to eliminate over 6,000 unmanned level crossings in the next three to four years.
“We have initiated multiple approaches to implement the zero accident mission,” a senior Railway Ministry official said. There are a total of 28,607 level crossings across the country of which 19,267 are manned and 9340 are unmanned. The official said of the total unmanned level crossings, around 6,388 are on broad gauge network and need priority attention for elimination. Remaining 2,952 exist on Meter-Gauge/Narrow Gauge network which can be taken up during the gauge conversion.
According to the action plan, the railways is focusing on eliminating almost all the Broad Gauge unmanned level crossing numbering 6,352 in the next 3-4 years. While Railways has eliminated 1,148 such crossings in 2014-15 and 1,253 in 2015-16, it has scaled up its target and now plans to eliminate 1,440 of them. Since unmanned crossings are responsible for the maximum number of train accidents, the Railways intends to eliminate all unmanned level crossings on Broad Gauge in the next 3-4 years for which innovative financing mechanisms are being developed.
Thrust is on for construction of rail overbridge, rail underbridge and manning the unmanned level crossings to prevent accidents, the official said. As a temporary measure, the Railways has deployed Gate Mitras (Gate Counselors) on contractual basis at vulnerable unmanned level crossings.
According to the railways, the deployment of Gate Mitras has led to reduction in a number of accidents. In 2014-15, 50 accidents took place at unmanned level crossings while in 2015-16 it came down to 29.
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Till April 1, 2016 a total 4,326 Gate Mitras were deployed at vulnerable level crossings. Simultaneously, Railways has been conducting awareness campaigns to prevent occurrence of such unfortunate incidents. The campaigns include organizing street plays, distribution of leaflets in and around unmanned level crossings, sending of mass SMS alerts to road users at around level crossings.