GUWAHATI, Aug 31 - Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) will eliminate all unmanned level crossings in the zone by 2020.
�We are closing down un-manned level crossings step by step. Our target is to ensure that not even a single un-manned level crossing remains in the NFR zone by 2020,� a senior official of the Indian Railways told The Assam Tribune.
He said the railway authorities have taken the issue of un-manned level crossings seriously across the country, including the NFR zone which comprises the north-eastern region, as well as Sikkim, parts of Bihar and parts of West Bengal.
As per latest official data, there were a total of 1,824 railway level crossings in the zone at the beginning of the current fiscal. Of them, 1,155 were manned level crossings and the remaining 669 were un-manned level crossings.
In the Rangiya Division, of the 397 railway crossings, 289 were manned and 108 were un-manned as on April 1. In Tinsukia Division, there were 251 crossings, of which 189 were manned and 62 were un-manned.
In the Lumding Division, there were 271 railway level crossings as on April 1. Of these, 180 were manned and 91 were unmanned. NFR also has two other divisions at Alipurduar and Katihar.
�This fiscal, work is continuing to close down some more unmanned level crossings or to convert them to manned ones,� said the official.
Meanwhile, NFR authorities said that in the greater Guwahati area there is not even a single unmanned authorised railway crossing.
�However, people tend to cross the tracks at some crossings which are unauthorised. This is very dangerous and can cause serious accidents. Already, many accidents have happened in Guwahati in recent months due to use of such unauthorised crossings by citizens,� NFR Public Relations Officer Nripen Bhattacharya said.
He added, �Use of such unauthorised crossings is trespassing in railway property and liable for punishment under the laws. Railway authorities will not be responsible for any accidents which may occur while crossing the tracks at unauthorised locations.�
He said similar accidents have occurred in other parts of Assam and rest of the NFR zone, especially in the stretch between Dibrugarh and Tinsukia, where the main rail track and the national highway run parallel to each another.
�People should use only the manned level crossings and the road underbridges (RUB) and road overbridges (ROB). There are four RUBs in greater Guwahati area � Adabari, Maligaon, Kamakhya Gate and Bhootnath. Besides, six ROBs are located in the city at Maligaon, Lakhtokia, near Nehru Stadium, AT Road, Chandmari and Noonmati,� Bhattacharya said.
Technical experts said that trains generally tend to run at high speeds and even when a pilot applies the brakes the train continues to run for at least three hundred metres while it slows down and comes to a halt.
�Under such circumstances, people should exercise extreme caution. Nowadays, people tend to use the mobile even while crossing the rail tracks, at times they sit on tracks, and at level crossings car drivers continue to drive even when electronic barriers start closing. Such behaviour is dangerous,� said an official.
NFR has intensified its campaign to raise awareness about maintaining safety and following proper rules while crossing rail tracks, including by means of advertisements in the media, the official said.