Thursday, May 23, 2013

A first in zero unmanned crossings

23rd May 2013 12:07 PM
Soon, the state will wave a red flag to bloody accidents at unmanned rail crossings. Come June, Kerala will become the first state in the country to claim the status of ‘zero’ unmanned level crossings. Since the national target set by the Railway Board for totally eliminating unmanned level crossings is 2015, Kerala will have a two-year headstart over many states.

This will come about with the Thiruvananthapuram division all set to emulate the clean slate maintained by the Palakkad division in the next six weeks. Only 10 out of 300 level crossings in Thiruvananthapuram division remain to be manned. Those level crossings that are yet to be manned fall under Ernakulam-Alappuzha, Alappuzha-Kayamkulam and Ernakulam-Alappuzha sectors. Of the 385 level crossings under Trivandrum division, 85 are in Tamil Nadu.
Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agarwal said they expect to finish the task by June last week. To meet the demand, recruitments were carried out recently. The additional vacancies are being filled by getting track men to don the role of gatekeepers. “In 2012, the division had 108 unmanned level crossings. In the past one year, we put extra effort and this paid rich dividends as over 90 level crossings could come under the manned crossings list. Once we convert another 10 crossings, Kerala will become the first state to be completely rid of unmanned crossings,” Agarwal said.
More than 60 lost their lives at the level crossings in last 20 years in Kerala.
“We incorporated trackmen and other personnel for the purpose. The newly-recruited railway men in group D category are also used for the purpose. Special training is being imparted at the training school at Kollam,” said P L Ashok Kumar, Area Manager, Ernakulam. As per the latest assessment each, gate would require at least three personnel.

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