Deaths at level crossings
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Aug 9: Assam has witnessed a steady rise in the number of accidental deaths at railway level crossings, with most of these incidents being blamed on carelessness on the part of victims.
In the year 2013, the number of accidental deaths registered by the Government Railway Police of Guwahati - area of jurisdiction between Saraighat and Soibari - was 86. The number increased to 97 in 2014.
This year, the GRP has already recorded 39 such accidental deaths.
As on February 2014, the State had 731 railway level crossings - of which 492 were manned and 239 unmanned.
However, NF Railway spokesman Nripen Bhattacharyya ascribed almost all the cases of accidental deaths to "trespassing."
"In 2014, there was just one accidental death of a motorcyclist on an unmanned crossing - between Ronjuli and Amjonga in Goalpara district. All the rest were in manned crossings. It is evident from this that the responsibility of the accidental deaths does not lie on the railway authorities. One cannot expect a train to halt suddenly like a vehicle. The average braking distance of a train is 300 meters," Bhattacharyya pointed out.
He said that even at unmanned level crossings, signs are put up to alert passer-bys. "The accidents occur because people do not take adequate precautions while crossing the track. In most cases, it is sheer negligence," he said.
The NF Railway authorities said that by 2020, all the level crossings in the State will be manned.
It may be noted that negligent crossing of a level crossing is a punishable offence under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the Railways Act, 1989.