Nod for goods traffic in this TN route devoid of gatekeepers raises safety concerns

Once the train is through the level crossing, the driver again stops and the gatekeeper on the back of the train alights to open the gate.

Published: 16th November 2019 10:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th November 2019 03:45 PM   |  A+A-

Railway tracks

For representational purposes (File Photo| PTI)

Express News Service

TIRUCHY: With the Karaikkudi-Pattukottai passenger train taking about six hours to cover 150 km due to the absence of gatekeepers, a decision by Southern Railway’s commercial department’s to permit goods services on the same route has surprised passengers and  officials alike.

“Currently, Railways is using mobile gatekeepers for passenger train movement on this route. In the mobile gatekeeper or travelling gatekeeper system, a train would have two gatekeepers. When approaching a level crossing, the driver would stop the train and the gatekeeper in front would alight to close the gate.

Once the train is through the level crossing, the driver again stops and the gatekeeper on the back of the train alights to open the gate.

This system would not be possible for goods train movement. Goods trains take more time for  acceleration and deceleration. Therefore, it is not practical to run a  goods train with mobile gatekeepers,” a source said. 

Southern Railway operations department is unlikely to permit goods movement without the appointment of gatekeepers.

“Goods movement is high at night. It is very unsafe to rely on mobile gatekeepers at night. So, it is unlikely the department would permit goods movement on a route without the appointment of gatekeepers.  Otherwise, it would create more safety issues,” a source said. The tussle between the two departments is a silver lining for those travelling on the Tiruvarur-Karaikkudi route.

“We  have been demanding the appointment of gatekeepers on our route for a  long time. So far, nothing has been done. In fact, this new direction exposes the fact Railways is giving more priority to freight traffic. But if it paves the way for the appointment of gatekeepers, it would reduce the travel time on this route”  said V  Viveganantham, secretary, Pattukottai Taluk Railway Passenger Welfare  Association.

It is still unclear whether Railways would make temporary arrangements to facilitate goods movement in this sector. The commercial department’s move, sources believe, would either end up on the operational department’s desk or facilitate the appointment of 72 gatekeepers.


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