Level-crossings finally become safer

After years of inaction, the railways has taken up, on an urgent basis, the deployment of personnel at unmanned railway gates, especially in Alappuzha segment of the state.

“A total of 22 unmanned gates were converted into manned ones in the last three months of which 18 are in the Alappuzha sector. We’re giving priority to the Ernakulam-Alappuzha-Kayamkulam section though two gates each have been set up in the Guruvayur and Nagarcoil sectors too,” a top railway official said.

The last of the manned gates to be erected is at Anjiripalam near Cherthala. The union minister of state for railways K.H. Muniyappa will formally inaugurate 20 such newly manned level crossings on Sunday, said union minister K.C. Venugopal who contributed `23 lakh from his MP’s fund for the construction activities.

Railway mishaps were shockingly common on the Kayamakulam-Alappuzha-Ernakulam railway line because of the 45 unmanned railway crossings and consequently the accident risk there is high.

Earlier this year, two persons were killed following a train hit near Cherthala. On August 8, 2010 four persons, including two foreign tourists were killed when their car attempted to cross an unmanned level crossing in Mararikkulam.

The railways are posting ex-servicemen at the gates for the first time. The new gatekeepers have undergone training at Palakkad and Madurai.

At least three gatekeepers are needed to man a level-crossing round the clock at eight-hour shifts, the official said.

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