Railways to advance 2020 deadline to get rid of unmanned crossings

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Railways is working on a plan to advance the deadline of March 2020 for elimination of all unmanned level crossings from its network.

The directive from railway minister Piyush Goyal came at a meeting of the transporter’s top brass which also had chairman railway board Ashwini Lohani present, called after 13 school children were killed at an accident at unmanned level crossing near Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.

At present, there are 5,792 unmanned and 19,507 manned crossings across the railway network. Out of total unmanned crossings, 3,479 are on broad gauge,which are major cause of concern for the railways.

The minister’s focus is on eliminating unmanned crossing on broad gauge by constructing road-over-bridges or underpassed or by mannings as soon as possible.

At the meeting, Goyal instructed the top railways officials that out of 3,479 unmanned crossings on broad gauge around 1,000 such crossings spread across 11 zones must be eliminated as per the September 2018 deadline set by him on September 7 last year.

As railway officials were seen dragging their feet in meeting the deadline to eliminate remaining around 2,500 unmanned crossings falling in five zones, the minister talked to general mangers of these zones through video-conferencing in the same meeting and directed them and railway board members to work out fresh guideline as March 2020 was not acceptable.

“We are working on new timeframe within the constraints,” said a senior official. He added, “We face lot of difficulties at ground level while executing the project such as fund constraints, land availability.”

Another official said that the plan being worked out is to ensure closure of all level crossing, both manned and unmanned level crossings on highdensity A, B, C routes by constructing road over bridges and underpasses.

The unmanned crossing on D and D special routes will be manned by the staff which will be free after closure of crossings on A, B, C routes, he added.economictimes