Unmanned rail crossings to become history

Unmanned rail crossings to become history

The latest accident in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday involved 13 children, who died after a train rammed into their school van at an unmanned crossing.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who chaired a high-level meeting on elimination of level crossings, said only 58 UMLCs remain on the A, B and C routes, which account for more than 80% of the rail traffic.

The minister said a multi-pronged strategy for removing the remaining UMLCs include manning level crossings, construction of railway underbridges and over bridges and diversion.

Last week, a passenger train hit the UP school van, killing 13 children -- all between the ages of 8-10 years -- on the spot in Kushinagar, about 100 km from Gorakhpur.

Latest mishap

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said removing UMLCs has brought down the number of accidents down the years - from 50 in 2014-2015 to 29 in 2015-2016, 20 in 2016-2017, 10 in 2017-2018 and one so far this year.

Lohani said a rail mitra (rail volunteer) present at the spot of the school van accident tried to stop the van but the driver did not heed. This is the first UMLC accident this year.

Accidents also occur at manned railway crossings. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, six accidents each were reported. In 2016-17,  no such accident took place.

At present, there are 5,792 unmanned and 19,507 manned crossings across the railway network. Lohani said, till March 31 this year,  most of the unmanned crossings were closed at busy stations, while work on 44 such stations will be completed by June.

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