27 June ; Railways have launched an SMS campaign to make the people aware about the possible danger of mishaps at unmanned level crossings.
“The SMS campaign involves sending of safety precaution messages to the local populace around the unmanned level crossings,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.
The text messages in Hindi and English are educative in nature and appeals to the road users, drivers of buses and tractors and others residing near the unmanned level crossings to take adequate precaution while negotiating them.
“Since majority of the people have mobile phones these days, we decided to use the SMS mode for our safety campaign,” said the official.
Messages like “stop at the unmanned level crossing, look around and only if no train is approaching then proceed ahead” are being sent to the target audience.
At present, there are 35,363 level crossings in the railway network, out of which 17,954 are unmanned.
“Accidents occur at unmanned level crossings primarily due to inadequate precautions by the road users who fail to observe mandatory sign boards, signals and basic traffic rules,” said the official.
Though train accidents at such crossings have marginally decreased over the last five years — from 65 in 2005-06 to 62 in 2009-10 — they still witness majority of railway mishaps.
“Besides SMS campaign, we are also distributing leaflets, pamphlets and posters in markets, petrol pumps around the crossings as part awareness campaign,” the official said.
Railways have also undertaken measures to construct road overbridges (ROBs) and road underbridges (RUBs) at unmanned crossings with the help of state governments.
In 2009-10, about 250 such ROBs and RUBs were commissioned under various schemes and more such projects are being planned for 2010-11.
“We are enhancing the pace of manning of unmanned level crossings with an ambition to eliminate all unmanned crossings in the next five years,” said the official.