Some 2,382 railway crossings in the country have neither a gate nor a caretaker and remain a potential cause of major accidents.
The Council of Common Interests (CCI) had ordered that the provincial governments and Pakistan Railways to collaborate and install gates on these crossings but the provincial governments have made no headway in this regard. The unmanned railway crossings become scenes of accidents recurrently.
Sources said railway tracks span 11,636 kilometres across the country with 4,072 crossings of these 2,382 are unmanned. Most of such unmanned crossings are in rural areas.
Pakistan Railways sources told Express that five years ago the railways had taken the issue of crossings on tracks in the CCI which issued orders to provincial governments to cooperate but none of four provinces did so.
Divisional Superintendent Lahore Abdul Hameed Razi said that there were speed bumps and warning signs on both sides of the railway crossing in Sheikhupura where a tragic accident occurred yesterday.
The motorcycle rickshaw was overloaded with 16 passengers. According to eyewitnesses, the rickshaw’s engine stalled when it was in middle of the crossing and the Karakoram Express hit it at a speed of 105 kms per hour, Razi said. The accident, according to him, was caused by the negligence of the rickshaw driver and the poor maintenance of the vehicle.
Replying to a question, he said that railway gates have been erected at a few places on the request of provincial and district governments and some government and semi-government organisations.
He said that the cost of a single railway gate is Rs10m and Pakistan Railways alone cannot bear this heavy cost and, therefore, cooperation was sought from the provincial and district governments.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2013.