The Lucknow division of the Northern Railways has decided to install gates at 121 unmanned level crossings in view of the Kushinagar incident in which 13 children were killed at an unmanned crossing.
“The work to close these 121 unmanned crossings will start from June and will end by September. Though the Railway ministry had decided to close all unmanned crossings by 2020, the work will now be completed by September this year,” Northern Railways, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Satish Kumar said.
He said unmanned crossings in Kanpur, Lucknow-Varansai and Lucknow-Prayag (Allahabad) routes will be closed by September. Though the April 26 incident in Kushinagar took place at an unmanned crossing that lies in North Eastern Railways, the Northern Railways has become alert after this mishap which occurred when a school van was hit by a speeding passenger train.
“Work to install gates is already underway at 12 crossings, but we have to float tenders for the remaining ones and work is expected to start by next month. Till gates are made, ‘gate mitras’ (volunteers) will remain deployed at all these crossings and they will regulate traffic at these unmanned crossings,” the DRM said.
In a similar tragedy in Uttar Pradesh two years back, eight children were killed and 14 others injured when a school bus was hit by a train at an unmanned railway crossing in Bhadohi. While the Kushinagar accident is the first accident at an unmanned level crossing this financial year, in 2017-18, there were three such accidents.
After visiting Kushinagar to make on-the-spot assessment of the mishap, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said he has spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on train accidents at unmanned crossings and appealed to him to make them manned and, if required, build overbridges.