PALAKKAD: With the closure of the last unmanned level crossing (UMLC) located on the Palakkad-Pollachi route of the Palakkad division, the state has become free of UMLCs. The state’s very last UMLC lying in the Palakkad division — level crossing number 40 — located near Kinassery between Palakkad Town and Pudunagaram railway stations - was closed on Sunday. It was possible to close the level crossing with the construction of parallel roads on railway land and diverting the traffic to the manned level crossing No. 41. In fact, in February, level crossing No. 42 located nearby, too was closed in a similar manner.
Diversion to the nearest manned LC is one of the methods of eliminating the UMLCs; in some cases, Limited Use Subway (LUS) or manning is provided. In extreme cases, outright closure is also adopted where an alternative route is available, said a railway officer. The approval of the District Collector is invariably obtained for the elimination of an UMLC by any of these alternatives. The Collector’s office seeks the views of the public on the matter. Railway officials said accidents at level crossings account for 60 per cent of casualties. As per all India statistics, 40 per cent of the accidents on the railway network occurs on unmanned level crossings.
This was the major factor prompting the district administration to eliminate UMLCs. The Palakkad division had eliminated all UMLCs on the broad gauge section decades ago. But the UMLCs on the meter gauge added up when the section from Palakkad to Pollachi and subsequently from Pollachi to Kinattukadavu was converted to broad gauge in 2015-16 and 2016- 17 respectively. These were the ones which have been eliminated in the last two years. The railway network in Kerala comprises of 1,045 km and 1,711 km of running track kilometres spread over the three railway divisions of Southern Railway- Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad and Madurai.