HYDERABAD: Nearly four years after Hyderabad-bound Nanded Express had rammed a school bus at an unmanned railway level crossing near Masaipet in Medak district killing at least 14 children along with the driver and cleaner of the bus, as many as 131 UMLCs remain to be eliminated in the South Central Railway zone. After the heart-rending accident that occurred on July 24, 2014, the SCR decided to eliminate all UMLCs.
The reverberations of Thursday's accident at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, in which 13 children were killed in a similar accident at an UMLC, are also being felt here. For the last five years, SCR has been talking about elimination of ULMCs in all its six divisions.
After Masaipet accident SCR has accorded top priority to safety, and no major incident that affected passenger safety was reported in the last fiscal year. In the last four years 268 UMLCs were identified in the six divisions for elimination. Last year 137 UMLCs were eliminated and all in Secunderabad division. In addition, 20 manned level crossings were also removed. SCR has drawn up a plan to eliminate all the remaining unmanned level crossings by the end of the current financial year (2018-19).
Officials said that in order to strengthen the safety at manned level crossing gates, surveillance cameras were installed at two level crossing gates on trial basis. SCR has also deployed Railway Gate Mitras' at unmanned level crossings to ensure the safety of people who cross the tracks.
UMLCs will be eliminated by various means such as manning the gates, building road underbridges and limited height subways, and by diverting road traffic.
GATE MITRAS: Over 10,000 men and women are employed as 'gate mitras' by the ministry of railways at unmanned level crossings to ensure the safety of people while crossing railway tracks. To get a better understanding of what it exactly is, one must not forget the iron poles which are used to prevent any vehicle or person from crossing the tracks when a train approaches. The job of gate mitras now is exactly the same and there are no iron poles now to obstruct the vehicles. He or she would alert people intending to cross the tracks about approaching trains.