LUCKNOW: Gate Mitras or gate counsellors will soon be deployed at 106 unmanned level crossings in Uttar Pradesh and efforts are on to enlist the services of 400 ex-servicemen to man them.
These crossings are located on the Lucknow-Kanpur route, Lucknow-Varanasi route and Lucknow-Prayag route.
Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Satish Kumar said, "In the Lucknow division of Northern Railways, there are 121 unmanned level crossings. Of these 15 crossings, which were not needed, have been closed down. Now, 106 unmanned level crossings are left."
"On these 106 unmanned level crossings, hand-operated gates have been installed, and Gate Mitras will be deployed there," he said.
Kumar said, "For this, preparations are on to avail the service of 400 ex-servicemen. Cabins will be constructed for the gatemen, which will also have toilet facilities. By September 30, 106 unmanned level crossings will have Gate Mitras."
The DRM said work on these 106 unmanned level crossings is going on at a fast pace, and by September 30, Gate Mitras are likely to be deployed there.
Gate Mitras have imparted training on how to handle unmanned level crossings as maximum accidents occur at these spots.
On April 26, 13 children on their way to school were killed when a train rammed into their van at an unmanned railway crossing in Kushinagar.
Five others were injured as the Thawe-Kapatanganj passenger train rammed into a van carrying 25 people, mostly children from Divine Public School.
In a similar tragedy in Uttar Pradesh two years back, eight children were killed and 14 others injured when a school bus was hit by a train at an unmanned railway crossing in Bhadohi.
While the Kushinagar accident was the first accident at an unmanned level crossing this financial year, in 2017-18, there were three such accidents.
After visiting Kushinagar to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said that he had spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on train accidents at unmanned crossings and appealed to him to make them manned and, if required, build over bridges.
West Central Railway, Central Railway, Eastern Railway and South East Central Railway, aggregating 11,545 km route, have now become Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLC) free on broad gauge, officials said.
As of January 1, as many as 3,479 UMLCs on broad gauge routes have been planned for elimination by the end of this month with a few exceptions. Goyal, in his first meeting after taking charge, had directed that all UMLCs be eliminated in the next one year. He had set the target of September 2018 for eliminating unmanned level crossings in 11 zones. For the remaining zones, the target is to eliminate such UMLCs before 2020, officials said.
In 2017-18, the cash-strapped transporter closed 1,565 such crossings. The target for 2018-19 is 1,500 crossings, they added.