KOCHI: A pleasant surprise awaited motorists arriving at the railway level crossing at Padiyath, Ravipuram, here on Thursday.
After a gap of seven years, the gates of the manned level crossing, known locally as ‘thurakkathe’ crossing (the crossing that never opens), were opened for traffic.
“The sound of vehicles moving past my tea shop took me back to the good old days when the place used to bustle with activity,” said Ravindran, whose teashop stands very close to the crossing.
Motorists were the happiest with the development, as now they would not have to travel all the way to the Atlantis railway crossing almost one km away to go to Panampilly Nagar and Thevara from MG Road. Instead, they could use this crossing which would cut down travel time by a minimum 30 minutes. “This is a direct route,” said Ravindran.
Ratheesh S, an autorickshaw driver, said, “You should have seen the happiness on motorists’ faces who came through here and saw the gates open.” He said some excited motorists even clicked pictures of the open gates!
“No one who came this way on Thursday could believe his/her eyes! Fearing that it was a glitch, some people even waited for sometime before crossing the tracks,” he said.
Ravindran said the railway tracks heading towards Alappuzha were mostly used for shunting. “While railway authorities can keep the crossing open for traffic when shunting is not taking place, they are not ready to do so,” alleged Ravindran.
A resident who did not wish to be named said the railways was seemingly planning to close the level crossing permanently. “However, we don’t think there is any difficulty in operating the gates, as the gatekeeper remains at his post throughout morning. He can easily man the gate and ensure no untoward incident takes place,” the resident said.
While overjoyed, the people here fear that their happiness would be short-lived.
“It would have been good if the gates were opened every day,” said Ratheesh. Until now, people going to the crematorium had to run around to permission from railway officials to get the gates opened.
‘We will look into it’
A Railways officer said there were difficulties in operating the level crossing. “The stretch is used for shunting and since this happens frequently along with the train traffic, the gates will remain open for a very short time. We will look into the possibility of opening the gate for traffic,” said the officer.