Patna: At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to run “bullet trains”, more than 1,100 railway crossings in the East Central Railway (ECR) are still unmanned, officials said Wednesday.
Thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles cross unmanned level crossings every day in violation of the Motor Vehicles Act (section 131) and risk their lives.
“There are 1,127 unmanned railway crossings in the five divisions of the ECR in Bihar and Jharkhand. This is a matter of serious concern for us,” Madhuresh Kumar, general manager of ECR headquartered in Hajipur near Patna, said.
Kumar said there are only 986 manned railway level crossings in the ECR.
On June 25, 12 bogies of the Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express derailed in Bihar’s Saran district, killing four people and injuring 22 others.
A week later, railways top brass have suddenly woken up to the need to increase security and maintain tracks, but little attention is being paid to accident-prone unmanned railway crossings in the ECR.
Kumar admitted it was a difficult task to man all unmanned railway crossings. “We have chalked out a plan to eliminate a number of unmanned railway crossings by either constructing road underbridges or foot overbridges in the current financial year,” he said.
The official said ECR has decided to turn 70 unmanned level crossings in different divisions into manned ones by March 2015.
According to railway officials, more than three lakh people cross railway tracks on the ECR every day.
ECR Chief Public Relations Officer A.K. Razak said the railway is creating awareness about level crossings and making people aware of safety measures through various means, including CCTVs and public address systems.
“The ECR is also organising streets plays on railway crossing safety measures and has distributed 35,000 pamphlets to create awareness,” he said.
Messages to mobile phone users are being sent to alert them about unmanned railway level crossings.
More than 200 people, including 50 railway officials, were killed at unmanned railway crossings across the country in the past three years.