Put up warning signboards ahead of crossings: Motorists

A Level Crossing behind World Trade Centre. (DH Photo/ B H Shivakumar)

Dozens of manned level crossings that still operate in the city are a cause of frustration for motorists. Here’s a look at how these crossings, relics from a different era, still affects the lives of Bengalureans, and why it is an issue that deserves to be highlighted.

Last year, the Bengaluru division of the railways had earned plaudits when they announced that they have eliminated all unmanned level crossings under their jurisdiction. This feat was achieved by closing 48 of the 71 crossings and converting the remaining 23 into manned crossings.

But crossings, manned or otherwise, are a cause for concern as they hamper the smooth flow of traffic, further aggravating the already chaotic scenes on the road. The problem is acute on the city’s outlying areas, as these localities are seeing high population growth.

The secret to future-proofing the city may lie in ensuring that areas such as these are bereft of any obstacles that may hinder seamless traffic.

Sumathi T, a resident of Kengeri expresses concerns about safety when quizzed about level crossings: “It is the duty of the Railways to ensure that signboards are placed half a kilometre from the crossing. Billboards with safety tips of railway crossing can be placed nearby to raise awareness about track safety.”

She feels it is very important that both drivers and pedestrians be alert and pay attention while at a railway level crossing. The dangers involved are multiple.

Arjun Narayanan, a business analyst at a consultancy firm had this to say about the Kaggadasapura railway crossing, “I have to commute past the crossing on an almost daily basis. Sometimes, on busy days, absolute chaos ensues when the gate is closed.”

Arjun dubs the ordeal of passing through the gate as a ‘gamble’ if you were short on time. “You lose atleast 20 to 25 minutes, and that is if you are on a motorcycle. It gets a bit trickier when you are in a car,” he elaborates.

He has a few ideas about how the situation can be improved: “An underpass is the best idea I can think of, but I am not sure if it is feasible. Maybe the roads leading up to it can be widened.”

Most grievances surrounding railway level crossings have to do with the uncertainity factor that they bring in, as Priyankith Sridhar, a resident of Malleshwaram observes. “The crossing affects me almost everyday. If it is open, I am on time for work. Otherwise, it’s a 2-km detour that I have to add to my journey, and in Bengaluru’s traffic, that is no small number.”

He wonders why the timings of the gates’ opening and closing could not be integrated into one of the online ‘map’ services. “Right now, I can open my phone and check out how bad the traffic is, anywhere in Bengaluru. Why can’t the same technology be used to provide alerts to commuters when the crossing is closed?” he asks.

Himanshu Dayalan, an entrepreneur based out of Whitefield emphasises the importance of converting these level crossings into Railway over-bridges and underpasses, “All the level crossings like the one here may not seem to be much of an issue now. But as population and traffic increases at such an enormous rate, it is better to be safe than sorry and ensure that these crossings don’t create big problems for traffic in the future”.

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