India: Accidents at unauthorised level crossings

10 May

India’s North East Frontier Railway has asserted that accidents on unauthorised level crossings are a major safety issue. In the latest fatal accident  near Rajabari in Assam one person was killed and another critically injured when the motorcycle on which they were travelling was hit by a train at about 09.15am on May 9th, 2016. Reports suggest that for reasons unknown the motorcycle stopped or was stopped straddling the tracks.

The Rajabari area is afflicted with a large number of unauthorised level crossings, including some constructed by municipalities where the growth of urban settlements has led to building in areas where the only viable access is via a level crossing. While the level crossings in question are unauthorised, this doesn’t mean they are unknown to the railway authorities.

While a policy that blocks the construction of new authorised level crossings is laudable, to allow the proliferation of unauthorised crossings for reasons associated with bureaucracy and public sector budgets not able to stand the costs of grade separating new road-rail interfaces is foolhardy. Worse still is the attitude that the railway is not responsible for any accident which takes place if a person crosses illegally is a case of burying the head in sand. This is an issue that requires the public sector to develop a strategy for addresssing the issues that lead to the long-term existance of unathorised level crossings.




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