Madurai, India: Novel approach to staffing level crossings

22 Aug

The Madurai Division of India’s Southern Zonal Railway is planning to post a person at 14 presently unmanned level crossings to wave a red flag and blow a whistle each time a train approaches.The crossings on the n the Virudhunagar-Tenkasi rail corridor does not have a night-time rail service and therefore the risk of the attendants sleeping on-the-job is limited.

The plan is to engage a contractor to provide the requisite manpower. The plan also calls for the recording of the licence number of vehicles when a driver fails to heed the warning. The vehicle numbers will be passed forward to facilitate prosecution under the Motor Vehicles Act or Section 131 of the Railway Act.

in response, the Western Railway Employees Union (WREU) has said that it is opposed to the privatisation of this task and that there will be a lack of training of the staff to be provided by a contractor. As a result, WREU asserts that there will be more accidents than would be the case if Indian Railways’ staff were deployed as they will have at least three years railway experience when appointed as crossing keepers. In the eyes of WREU the right approach would be to recruit more than 50,000 staff members so that all unmanned level crossings in India could be converted to manned crossings.

The Madurai Railway Division is presently responsible for 709 level crossings of which 415 are manned with a further 28 in prospect. 70 level crossings will be eliminated through consolidation.

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