The Railways have finally realised that creating awareness is not a solution to recurring accidents at unmanned level crossings (ULCs).
The Delhi division of Northern Railways has decided to build low-height subways (LHSs) at most of the 250 ULCs in phases over the next three years.
"We will build 60 LHSs within a year and man, through deployment of gatemen, 80 ULCs. A budget of Rs. 125 crore has been sanctioned for these 60 LHSs. We will deal with the rest 110 ULCs in later phases - but LHSs would be built at most of these locations," said Anurag Sachan, divisional railway manager (DRM).
"We cannot build LHSs at all ULCs because their height is only 4 metres and at some places commuters actually want deployment of gatemen," he said.
In Delhi city area, there are 16 ULCs but all of them are manned because of the heavy vehicular movement in the city Some of the sections were accidents take place frequently at ULCs are: Delhi-Rohtak, Delhi-Rewari, Shahadra-Shamli, Panipat-Rohtak and Panipat-Kurukshetra.
"Victims are mostly outsiders. Locals are cautious. But the problem is accidents happen even at those places where ULCs have been manned or LHSs constructed. In such situations, we can only rely on awareness campaigns and hope commuters will follow safety rules," the DRM said.
At places where ULCs are already manned but commuter face problems because of heavy road traffic, the Railways is also building 20 road over-bridges (ROBs) and road under-bridges (RUBs) at a cost of R400 crore.
"Once these projects are completed, road traffic on various sections such as Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Ambala, Delhi-Palwal, Delhi-Rohtak and Delhi-Rewari will get smoother, as vehicles will not have to stop at railway crossing because of movement of trains," he said.
Because of these ROBs and RUBs, traffic at places such as Nangloi in west Delhi and Bijwasan on Delhi-Haryana border will also get better.
"As part of a special measure, we are building LHSs along with ROBs and RUBs because not everyone — say rickshaw-pullers — can use these elevated and underground structures," the DRM said.