NEW DELHI: There are nearly 900 unmanned railway crossings yet to be eliminated by various zonal railways even as the deadline set by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to make the entire railway network free of unmanned crossing by September 2018 has ended.
In a review carried by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, Northern Railways reported the highest, over 500, unmanned railway crossings. While four zonal railways have completely eliminated all unmanned railway crossings, rest are yet to do so. During the meeting, some of the zonal railways sought extension of the deadline till March 2019.
The Railway Ministry had decided to advance the March 2020 deadline for eliminating unmanned crossings after the horrific accident in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushihnagar in April that left 13 students dead. There were 2,869 crossings as on July 2018.
Infrastructure problem has been cited as one of the major reasons for the delay in eliminating railway crossings. Railway is constructing overhead bridges, diversions and underpasses at unmanned crossings and at many places, ex-servicemen have been hired to man the crossings.
“The unmanned crossing on busy routes has been eliminated and majority of pending are on routes with less traffic and where train moved at slower speed,” said a railway official.The funds are being drawn from the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh created in 2017-18 with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore.