Saturday, June 15, 2013

Special train carrying top officials mows down truck at level-crossing, one killed

A. V. Ragunathan

Of the three injured in accident, truck driver died on Friday

A special train carrying top officials of the Southern Railway was involved in an accident with a truck at the unmanned level-crossing at Irunthai near here on Thursday. In the accident, truck driver Sivakozhundu (25) of Nemili and two others namely Koothan (19) and Raghunathan (21) who accompanied him sustained injuries. At the intervention of the railway officials, “108” ambulance service was immediately requisitioned and the injured were taken to the Villupuram government hospital. However, the truck driver succumbed to injuries on Friday.
Southern Railway sources said that as the Villupuram - Katpadi section required improvement, Commissioner of Rail Safety T. Mittal accompanied by Divisional Railway Manager (Tiruchi) Manjula Rangarajan was travelling in the special train to inspect the track.
At the Irunthai unmanned level-crossing, the truck suddenly came in the way of the speeding train resulting in the accident. Soon after the accident, the residents of the area gathered in good numbers and started blocking road traffic.
It was their contention that the level-crossing had become a highly accident-prone area and yet the authorities had not made any safety measures. Ms. Rangarajan assured them that she would make arrangements to man the level crossing at the place.
On getting the assurance, the agitated residents dispersed. Railway sources said there were 331 unmanned level crossings and 404 manned level-crossing gates in the Tiruchi division.
To avert the accidents at unmanned level-crossings, the Southern Railway had been continuously launching awareness campaign. It was distributing pamphlets to the people residing in the vicinity as well as the road-users alerting them to be cautious while passing through unmanned level-crossings, officials said.
For ensuring safety, people ought to observe a basic rule: pause at the level-crossing and check for the sign of any oncoming any train before resuming the journey. During the last financial year (2012-2013), two accidents occurred at the unmanned level-crossings in the Tiruchi division claiming three lives.
On December 16, 2012, a sports utility vehicle hit the Jan Shatapdi Express at Aduthurai in Kumbakonam killing two of the occupants of the car. Later, at the level-crossing situated in between Kattur and Pullampadi, a tractor-trailer was hit by the train in which one person was killed. The sources categorically said that since these accidents were occurring owing to the carelessness of the motorists and road-users the Railways would in no way be responsible for the mishaps. It was up to the road users to exercise caution at the unmanned level-crossings.
The sources also noted that wherever possible, the railway authorities were putting personnel to man the level-crossings and constructing either a subway or rail over bridge to avert such accidents.


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