Sunday, January 25, 2015

Railways to hire staff to keep people off tracks at unmanned crossings

Coimbatore (CBE): The Salem and Madurai divisions of Southern Railway plan to appoint people as gate counsellors or gate mitras to keep an eye on unmanned railway crossings so that people do not cross the tracks. Both divisions have floated tenders to appoint counsellors on a trial basis for 110 days. “The gate mitras or counsellors will be placed at crossings with low train and road vehicle usage because it is more economical,” said a railway official from Madurai division.

The railways will choose people who live close to the unmanned crossings as they will know the train timings well. “We want locals who are fit and familiar with train timings and the local language,” said the official. “All they need to do is go to the crossing when the train passes, and ensure no one crosses the track,” he said. “They will counsel people on safety and convince them to wait a few minutes.”
According to National Crime Records Bureau, 1,971 people died in railway accidents in the state in 2013. “A sizeable number of such deaths occurred on unmanned crossings,” said the Salem railway division officer.
While Madurai division has 292 unmanned crossings, Salem division has 92. The Southern Railways Board had come with a three-pronged plan to eliminate such crossings—by building limited use subways or overbridges, creating a diversion a short distance away for vehicles and pedestrians, and appointing gate mitras or counsellors.
Once the locals are recruited, they will be given training in road safety, railway safety and counselling. “They will be taught to handle situations where people who are suicidal or depressed attempt to cross the tracks,” added the Salem division spokesperson. The job is open to anyone


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